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Spring 2021: Daylight Savings and Sleep Schedules

With the spring forward time change, we are going one hour ahead, which means that we will lose an hour of sleep. On the plus side, the days will feel much longer with more sunlight! This is the moment we have all been waiting for.

This time change is also the best out of the two, especially when you have kids. Your kids will still be waking up at a ‘normal time’.

So what can you do?

Option #1

If you are happy with your child’s sleep schedule, simply keep your wake time and bedtime the same according to the new adjusted time. This means that you will carry on with your schedule as you normally would, and your child will simply adjust to the new time. Consider that when the time change happens, you may need to put your child to bed a little earlier until they can properly adjust, and to avoid over-tiredness.

Option #2

The second option is going about this with more of a gradual approach. You can do this by waking up your child a bit earlier than usual, about 4 days before the time change happens. For example, if your usual wake time is 6:45 am, move it to 6:30 am, then 6:15 am and so on. You will then reach 5:45 am by the fourth day, which will eventually be the new 6:45 am adjusted time. You can also adjust your child’s first nap by putting them down 15 minutes earlier as well. So instead of a 9 am nap, it would now be an 8:45 am nap. You would do the same thing for bedtime. You can even do this in 30 minute increments, 2 days before the time change. Whatever works best for you!

This approach ensures that when the clocks spring forward, your child is already on the new time, thus making the transition easier for those babies who might be a little more time-sensitive when it comes to sleep. It is important to ensure that your child is not going to bed overtired. The last thing you need to end up with is an overtired kiddo through this transition period!

(Option 2 is the most popular option that I've seen work best).

Some babies wake really early and parents can use DST to shift their child's schedule, especially for the warmer upcoming months. So a baby who previously slept from 7:00 PM – 5:00 AM continues to sleep 10 hours a night, however those 10 hours are falling on the post- DST clock time of 8:00 PM – 6:00 AM. For some parents, this can be beneficial if you want to spend more of those evening hours outside vs putting your baby to bed early.

With whatever method you choose…

- Get outside especially in the early morning and early afternoon! Light exposure is your number one tool to adjust to the new time.

- When you go inside to get ready for your child’s bedtime, the key is to make the house a little darker by closing the blinds and windows. This will cue the production of melatonin (our sleepy hormone that helps us fall asleep and stay asleep). This is especially beneficial when your little one goes to bed at a time that it is still light out. Its difficult for children to get sleepy when they see light!

- Invest in blackout blinds. Just a little bit of light sneaking into your child’s bedroom at bedtime and in those early morning hours can really have an impact on your child’s sleep.

- Be patient with your child. When we go through jet lag (for example), it is important to remember that it does take some time. This is similar. Your child might be a little overtired and cranky but they should get back on track. It could take up to a week to adjust to the new time.

- You can shift meals ahead of time as well if you'd like!

It is important to know that sleep is never a one-answer solution and adjusting your child’s schedule to the time change may vary depending on your specific situation. If you are looking for tailored advice/ support, whether it would be anything sleep or behaviour- related for your little one, please contact us and visit our services page to view some of your options.

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