Daylight Saving Time: Sleep Tips for Children

On Sunday we “fall back” and gain one hour because Daylight Saving Time ends and we go back to Standard Time. The time change can wreak havoc on sleep, especially in children. And the last thing a parent needs is a kid who doesn’t sleep well.

If you’re worried about losing even more sleep than the one hour, we have some tips that may help make it a smooth transition.

One of the founders of Dream Team Baby , baby sleep trainers, Conner Herman offers this advice:

Saying goodbye to the summer is hard enough. So, when it comes to daylight savings weekend, we prefer to keep things simple. Here are a few of our tips to helping your children adjust to the “fall back” in time this weekend.

— IF YOU CAN, IT’S IDEAL TO START THE DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TRANSITION ON SATURDAY. This gives families the benefit of an extra day to adjust before the work and/or school week begins.

– IT’S OKAY IF YOU CAN’T START SATURDAY. Just start at Step #3 below. However, know that the transition may be a bit more difficult for sensitive sleepers.

  1. During the day on Saturday, use your child’s nap times and bedtimes to help him or her “pre-adjust” to the new schedule. We generally suggest moving things up in 15 or 30-minute increments. For instance, on Saturday, your child’s normal 1:00 p.m. nap time and 7:00 p.m. bedtime would turn into a 1:15 p.m. nap time and a 7:30 ot 7:45 p.m. bedtime. Doing this homework ahead of the actual time shift will give your child a head start on Sunday.
  2. Try your best to get your child ready for these new nap times and bedtime on Saturday by getting plenty of fresh air. If possible, introduce some fun, novel activities. This will help tire your child out a bit more than usual. Also, make sure to stick to your usual pre-nap routine, if you have one.
  3. On Sunday morning, the time will have shifted back overnight, and your child may wake up earlier than their adjusted normal wakeup time.  Try to encourage your child to sleep their normal length of time.  But given how late you were able to put them down the night before, the wake-up may still be a little early.Just for this day, allow your child to get up early in the morning. However, if your little one sleeps that extra hour and makes it to the adjusted wake-up time naturally, you’re all set. Congratulations, you win the parental lotto!
  4. If your child wakes up early and cannot get back to sleep, try your best to put your little one down as close as possible to their new adjusted nap time(s) throughout the day.
  5. Whether your child is still easing toward the “normal” schedule or has made the adjustment easily, expect Sunday to still be a challenge since it will feel an hour later to their bodies. Continuing the family fun and planning exciting activities ahead of time will help keep things moving and make this day much easier for all of you.
  6. On Sunday evening, try your best to help your child make it to their normal bedtime. If they are utterly exhausted, it’s okay to let him or her fall asleep 15-20 minutes early. Use your best judgment.

Please remember that all children are different. Some make the jump in time change seamlessly, and others take a few days to fully adjust. Just be patient and it will all “fall back” into place. 

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