The time change is coming!
If you have a baby or young children, the celebration of that extra hour to sleep in is a distant memory. Daylight savings time will be upon us on November 6, 2016, and it has a whole new meaning when we have little ones getting up that whole hour earlier!
Why is it an issue in the first place? Our biological clocks are dictated by our circadian rhythms. During a time change, our body clock needs to shift more than 30 minutes in either direction and not unlike jet lag, it is not instantaneous and does take a few days to adjust to.
So how do we handle keeping our children on schedule with the time change?
Here are some tips to make the transition for your whole family a little easier:
- Gradual approach -Plan ahead if possible. It is ideal to start shifting towards the new time a few days before the clocks actually change. A week or so before the time change, you will want to start shifting your existing schedule forward. Our scheduled activities during the day such as mealtimes, playtimes and bedtimes plays a part in telling our children’s internal clocks what time it is in the day/night. By gradually moving these every day rituals forward by 15 minutes every couple of days, we will make the transition easier for them.
- Age is a factor–Older toddlers and children can usually tolerate the changes much better and will likely not have too much of a struggle making the jump in one swift motion, however our little guys from 4 months – approximately 2 years old may have a bit of a harder time and take a few more days to adjust.
- What can we do? -We want to work with the light/darkness to assist in resetting our body clock. In the morning, we want to try to keep our lights either off if possible or the household very dim. We basically want to extend that morning darkness. If your baby normally wakes at 6:30am every morning, they will now be getting up at 5:30am, so we want to try to keep them in darkness for that extra 30-60 minutes. During the day and early evening hours, exposure to natural daylight is ideal and in the evening, we want to try to extend the lightness and keep our homes bright for that extra hour in the evening.
- Nappers- If your child is still on 2 naps a day, we will want to bring that morning nap back by 30 minutes. For example, if your child normally goes down at 9:00am, on that first morning, you would be putting them down at 8:30 new time and the rest of your day will follow accordingly.
If they are on one afternoon nap, you will also want to then bring that back by 30 minutes. You can do this gradually over a couple of days in smaller increments of 15 minutes. Think of it as meeting the new time halfway.
- Patience – Like everything regarding sleep, it is a process and will not be perfect straight away. Consistency and patience is key. It may be a bit bumpy for a few days but stick to your schedules and routines and within a few days everyone will adjust and the panic about the time change will be a distant memory… until the spring.
If you have any questions about this or any other sleep issues, please comment on the post and I will answer your questions!