How to Prepare Sleep Schedules for Daylight Saving Time.
Guest Post | Whitney Roban Ph.D.
Springtime is upon us! This change in seasons brings us warmer weather, beautiful flowers, and longer days. Unfortunately, it also brings to parents the dreaded daylight savings time shift in sleep. This “Spring Forward” can be stressful to parents of young children, as it can disrupt sleep schedules and routines. I am here to offer my best tips for the upcoming daylight savings time so that your family has a smooth transition into Spring.
Daylight savings time falls this year on Sunday, March 13th. On this day we will move the clocks ahead one hour. While losing an hour doesn’t seem to have a major effect on most adults, it can actually cause significant sleep regressions in children. The most important advice I can give is to be proactive in your quest to successfully tackle daylight savings time. Instead of making changes to your child’s sleep schedule overnight, allow your child’s internal clock to adjust to the time change over a period of several days. To do this, you will need to move the bedtime earlier in 15 minute increments for the 4 days preceding daylight savings.
For example, let’s assume your child has a 7:00pm bedtime. On Thursday, March 10th, you will put your child to bed at 6:45pm. On Friday, March 11th, bedtime will be 6:30pm. On Saturday, March 12th, it will be 6:15pm. On Sunday, March 13th, bedtime will be 6:00pm. March 13th is daylight savings and that evening your child’s internal clock will be set to a 6:00 bedtime which on this day will now become the new 7:00pm. You have slowly and successfully transitioned your child to his “new” bedtime.
Early Bedtimes are Okay
Most children do not get the required amount of daily uninterrupted sleep. Do not be scared of an early bedtime for your child. The more sleep your child gets, the better. The days preceding daylight savings allows parents the opportunity to provide more sleep for the family. The earlier bedtime will not make your child wake up earlier in the morning. In fact, the opposite is true. The more sleep our bodies get, the more sleep our bodies want!
Keep Consistent Bedtime Routines
Another aspect of bedtime that can have an effect on sleep during daylight savings time is bedtime routines. Keep your child’s bedtime routine consistent, especially during those four days approaching daylight savings and during the transition. Do not make it longer because your child does not appear tired when moving bedtime earlier.
It may take your child a few extra minutes to fall asleep as you adjust the bedtime nightly. That is okay. Allow your child’s mind and body to relax and fall asleep peacefully. Putting a child to bed early and when they are not already overtired makes falling asleep physically much easier for a child.
Don’t Discuss the Time Change
I also recommend that parents do not discuss the time change nor the change in bedtime with your child. It is a difficult concept for children to grasp and it is not necessary to explain the adjusted bedtime to your child. You will just waste precious sleep time trying to convince your child of something that you know is in their best interest.
Just stay positive in knowing that you are doing what is necessary and best for your child in relation to sleep. Your child will benefit from your knowledge of how to successfully adapt to the change. Remember that you are the parent and you must stay confident and in control of your child’s sleep.
Try to remain calm and patient during this transition. As long as you allow enough time preceding daylight savings for your child’s internal clock to adjust to the new time, you shouldn’t notice any change in your child’s sleep patterns. If you are unable to make the slow adjustment, do not worry. In this case, it may take several days before your child’s internal clock will adjust to the new time. However, your whole family will then be well rested and ready to enjoy beautiful Springtime!
PEDIATRIC SLEEP SPECIALIST | PARENT & CORPORATE WELLNESS EDUCATOR
Founder of SLEEP-EEZ KIDZ and SLEEP WELL/WORK WELL, Dr. Whitney Roban considers sleep a necessity, not a luxury. She lives and works by one philosophy: parenting is one of the hardest jobs, made even more difficult when a family doesn’t sleep. Her mission is to give the gift of sleep to families through her information dissemination and emotional support based sleep training system, as well as her parent and corporate wellness education workshops.
With a Ph.D. in Clinical and School Psychology from Hofstra University, Whitney began her career creating psycho-educational books and games for Childswork/Childsplay. She then took her expertise to the Girl Scout Research Institute where she authored national research studies in the youth market and reported the results in various media outlets such as television and radio. After taking time off from her professional life to be a mom, during which time she sleep trained her own children, Whitney formed SLEEP-EEZ KIDZ and SLEEP WELL/WORK WELL and has helped hundreds of children and their parents sleep soundly every night.
A native of New York, Whitney formed SLEEP-EEZ KIDZ in 2005 while living in Los Angeles. She currently lives in New York with her two children, ages 10 1/2 and 13. Dr. Roban is now devoting her time away from her two very well rested sons to help other parents and caregivers struggling with childhood sleep problems.