For those living in the United States, Daylight Savings Time begins this Sunday, March 12, at 2:30 am.
This is when we “spring forward,” that is, we change the clocks from 2 am to 3 am (or more likely, our cell phones do it for us).
For most adults, this is not a great experience. For those with young children, hope springs eternal that this might cure a child’s early wakings. For if they were waking up at 5 am before, suddenly they are waking up at 6 am.
Unfortunately, this rarely works out but it’s always worth a shot!
Your best bet, if this is your situation, is to keep naps, bedtime, and mealtime exactly the same as they are now in terms of your child’s body clock. Therefore, if bedtime is currently 7 pm, make it 8 pm after the time change. Naptime (for a once-a-day napper) might shift from 1 pm to 2 pm. And meals switch from 6, 12, and 5 to 7, 1, and 6.
It’s important to move mealtime as well as sleep times in order to keep your child’s body clock from shifting.
If your child is not an unusually early riser, it's best to start the transition 4-6 days before the start of DST so that you aren’t dealing with an overtired and cranky child (or parents). Move bedtime, naptimes, and mealtimes 10-15 minutes later each day and you should be more or less on track by Sunday.
And keep in mind that the timing doesn’t have to be perfect by Sunday – you can consider that one extra day of grace for sorting out the time change.
Don’t be surprised if everyone feels a little groggy and tired next week. That should wear off in a few days. But starting the transition ahead of time should definitely lessen the impact of the time change.
If you’d like help navigating this or another sleep challenge, schedule a free sleep consultation and find out how your family can be amazingly well-rested in two weeks or less, guaranteed.
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Abby Wolfson is a pediatric nurse practitioner, certified child sleep consultant and certified life coach for parents. She divides her time between Brooklyn, NY and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.