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
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.