Daylight Savings Time Arrives March 13th in the USA and Canada. Here's How To Avoid Sleep Disruptions.
It’s hard to be organized with time changes – I rarely succeed – but that’s partly because I don’t have someone reminding me! So I’m here for you!
The big payoff for preparation? Preparing your children gradually will help prevent night wakings and early morning wakings. Which means avoiding overtired, cranky children (and adults)! Win win.
If you are extra organized, begin TODAY by moving bedtime 10 minutes earlier each night. You also need to wake your child up 10 minutes earlier each day, to move meals 10 minutes earlier, and to move naps 10 minutes earlier as well.
Do this each day and by the time DST rolls around, your little one won’t even register the time change.
If you are less organized – and I don’t blame you – you can start 4 days ahead of time and move every item on the list (bedtime, wake time, nap times and meal times) 15 minutes earlier each day.
And if you are even less organized, remember that you don’t have to make the full switch on Sunday. You can pretend that the time change didn’t happen yet and make a gradual transition even after the official time change. Just start the transition on Sunday.
Just know that the faster the transition, the more likely you are to have “growing pains” and sleep disruptions. If you do it all in one day, the entire family is likely to suffer. But you should recover within a few days.
Also, if you haven’t yet installed blackout shades, this weekend is an excellent time to do so. The days are just going to keep on getting longer and, for those of you at northern latitudes, bedtime (and early wakings) are just going to keep on getting more challenging as a result. So make those bedrooms as dark as you can.
The reason for this – it’s not just that darkness is easier for sleep – is that darkness triggers the brain to produce melatonin, the hormone that naturally helps us fall asleep and stay asleep. Blackout shades are truly magical for this reason – they are total gamechangers.
If you are worried about your child getting “addicted” to truly dark rooms and that travel will be difficult as a result, know that you can bring garbage bags and painter’s tape with you to make guest rooms more dark while you travel.
Also, fear of not having great sleep later should not be a reason to prevent great sleep now. If nothing else, your well-rested child will be better able to cope with the disruption of travel if they are sleeping well now, even if they don't have perfect darkness later on.
If the financial investment of blackout shades is intimidating, know that you can use temporary blackout shades. You don’t have to spend a lot for great sleep! This six-pack of temporary blackout shades is just $20. Or you can do what I did and experiment with just garbage bags and painter’s tape at first. (Warning: it’s highly effective and deeply depressing to go into a room that is consistently that dark!)
Daylight savings tends to bring a lot of sleep disruptions to families with young children. Spending a few days preparing for the transition will help everyone. Just don't forget, parents, that you also need to start transitioning your sleep and wake times now too. It's not easy to force yourself to go to sleep earlier, but it's worth the payoff.
If your family is already struggling with sleep, fear not. Schedule a free consult today and get the well-rested family you deserve.
*Mexico changes to DST on Sunday, April 3rd
If you’re like me, your transition to standard time might have been a bit (or a lot) of a cluster.
We can’t all be well-organized!
If your child is suddenly waking up in the middle of the night, or crazy early in the morning, don’t despair.
Hope is not lost.
The main thing is, stay consistent. Keep aiming for an early (but adjusted-to-standard-time) bedtime. Wake your child in the morning by 7 am, even on weekends. Keep the midday nap starting between 12-1 pm, regardless of how early your child woke up.
And if your child (still) takes a morning nap, don’t let it get too early, even if your child is waking up quite early in the morning. In most cases, a first nap (after the first four months of life) should be between 8:30 and 9 am.
If you are panicking because sleep has totally gone off the rails for your family, don’t. We can totally fix this. Schedule your free discovery call today. And if we’ve worked together before and you just need a few questions answered, schedule a 30-minute Ask Me Anything call and receive a 10% off returning client discount.
If you are super organized about this – and I’ve never succeeded in this, so no judgment from me – you should start preparing your child for the end of Daylight Savings Time today.
In the United States, the clocks “fall back” this year on Sunday, November 7.
That means if your child normally wakes up at 6 am, he will wake up at 5 am next Sunday morning, according to the clock.
And if she normally goes to bed at 7 pm, her bedtime will become 8 pm.
If you’ve ever talked to me, you know that early morning wakings are generally caused by too-late bedtimes. And if you suddenly move your child’s bedtime an hour later – on Sunday night, no less – you are very likely to have an ugly, tired, whiny week for the entire family.
But if you can get organized – and again, this is no easy feat – you can make the time change pretty easy on yourselves.
Start moving your child’s bedtime and wake times 10 minutes later TODAY. So move bedtime from 7:00 to 7:10 pm. Those few minutes should not be enough to cause chaos, assuming your child is otherwise well-rested.
In the morning, try not to get your child up before 6:10 instead of 6 am (assuming 6 am is your desired wake time, DWT).
Just to make things more complicated, tomorrow you ALSO need to move meal times and nap times later. So a 9 am nap becomes a 9:10 am nap, and a 12 pm lunch time becomes a 12:10 pm lunch time.
Continue to do this each day, and pause for a day if your child gets too overtired. There’s no reason you have to have the entire transition done before DST ends, but it will certainly help if you are most of the way there. You can continue to transition that Sunday and even that Monday.
If you don’t start quite early enough, you can also move the schedule by 15-minutes per day. You may have more overtiredness that way, but maybe not, too. It just depends how sensitive your child is.
One final suggestion: try to make next week a low stress week. Veterans Day is that following Thursday, November 11, so that will hopefully make the week a little easier than normal.
If you'd like help transitioning your child to a more liveable schedule where you all get more sleep, set up a free discovery call and find out how to make this dream come true.
Abby Wolfson is a pediatric nurse practitioner, certified child sleep consultant and former NICU nurse. She divides her time between Brooklyn, NY and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.