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FALL BACK: How To Adjust Your Child's Sleep For Daylight Savings

Updated: Oct 26, 2021

Daylight savings is coming up (November 7th). Those without children get an extra hour of sleep, but for those with little’s, this does not apply unfortunately. So if you have a child, don't worry, their schedule will not mess up! It will simply take some planning and a little bit of time to adjust.

How The Time Change Can Effect Your Little One

To give you a heads up about how the time change may alter your child’s schedule, what will happen, is an earlier wake time (by an hour). So if they normally wake at 7:30am, they will be up at 6:30am according to the new time.

If your child keeps waking earlier, that earlier wake time can throw off both naps and bedtime, which may result in over-tiredness. If your child falls in a cycle of over-tiredness, this may result in early morning waking’s, short naps, night waking’s and bedtime battles. If you are wondering what you can do to get your little one sleeping later rather than waking earlier, here are some tips below!

What Can Be Done About Naps And Bedtime?

So if you have a ‘flexible’ child, who is one is that is not easily effected by changes in their schedule, allow your child to naturally adjust over the course of a few days by sticking to their regular nap and bedtimes (according to the new time). You might have a few ‘off days’, but it should go back to normal within a short period of time.

The next option is commonly used for children who are sensitive toward schedule changes. What you can do for them in order to prepare for the time change, is to move their schedule later by 15 minutes per day leading up to the time change. So let's say your baby normally wakes at 7am, they will now be waking up at 6am. In order to solve this problem, you would move their schedule later and later every day to make it back to their regular time. You can start implementing this for 4 days before the time change. When it comes time for naps and bedtime on Sunday, you can start putting your child to bed at their normal time because now their schedule is shifted an hour and is now at the new time.

It may be difficult to keep your child up a bit later than usual, so my advice to you is to do your best to expose them to plenty of light during the day and try to keep them stimulated and active in the evening. If they happen to be too exhausted that day and putting them to bed any later is not possible, it's best to just put them to bed to avoid over-tiredness and continue to try making slight time changes the next day.

Here is an example of how you would shift your child’s schedule:

If their morning nap is usually at 9am, on Wednesday, shift it to 9:15am, then 9:30am on Thursday, 9:45am on Friday, and 10am on Saturday. By the time Sunday approaches, your child will now be napping at their usual 9am (according to the new time).

If a gradual change is not your thing, you can change the increments to 20-30 minutes later per day for 2-3 days leading up to the time change rather than 15 minutes for 4 days leading up to the time change.

A Few Additional Tips That Might Help:

-In order to reset your child’s internal clock, ensure that your child’s sleep environment is as dark as possible so that there is no light peaking through in the morning.

-Try to get outside! Exposure to sunlight will help to adjust your child’s internal clock.

-It is important to shift everything to a later time, including mealtimes.

-If by the time Sunday rolls around and your child is still exhausted and ready for bed at 6:30pm when bedtime is typically 7pm, put them to bed! It is better to get your child to bed at a time when they are not overtired because overtired children may wake in the middle of the night or earlier in the morning. Putting your child to bed at a time that they are tired but not overtired, increases their chances of sleeping later and overall, having a better sleep.

If you are looking for additional help with any sleep challenges, you can book a free 15 minute call so that we can discuss options about working with one another on how we can get your entire family sleeping better!

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