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Daylight Savings

Updated: Nov 7, 2021

Daylight Savings is coming up this weekend. Most parents don’t mind it so much in Autumn when we gain an extra hour, but it sends fear through people’s bones when they realise they’re going to loose an hour of sleep. Sleep Consultants get a TON of questions asking for the best way to handle Daylight Savings time and children’s sleep. So here it is:

If I had my way, there would not be a daylight savings time. It affects not only children’s sleep but adult’s too. Statistically there is an 8% increase in traffic accidents the Monday after daylight savings kicks in. It can increase sleep debt – especially in children, who tend to have more structure around bedtime, usually going to bed at the same time every night and waking up around the same time every morning. That is why people often notice the affects Daylight Savings has on children.

So, what is the best way to handle it? My advice is to ‘split the difference.’

For Autumn when we move our clocks back, I recommend to just leave the clocks alone so it’s not a psychologically upsetting event to see your little one waking up an hour earlier. Just get up at your usual time to start the day. After some breakfast and a cup of coffee, then you can go around changing the clocks. Trust me, it will feel much better this way!

If, for example your little one usually takes a morning nap around 9.30am, you will adjust this to 9.00am for the first three days after the time change. It will be a push for your child but not so much that it will cause damage to her schedule. Do the same for her afternoon nap.

Let’s say your child goes to bed at 7pm, I recommend putting her to bed at 6.30pm, again for the first three days of the time change. 6.30pm will FEEL like 7.30pm to your child. It will take about a week for your child to get use to this as it takes everyone's body roughly a week to adjust to any kind of change in sleeping habits.

If your child is over the age of two, you can put a digital clock in their room and put a piece of tape or Blutak over the minutes, so they can only see 7 o’clock. The minutes on a digital clock can often confuse toddlers. Set the clock forward half an hour so that at 6.30am it says 7am and let them get up a little earlier than usual, knowing that, by the end of the week, they will be back on track and sleep until their normal wake up time.

If you have a baby, you obviously can’t do that. So, I suggest to not rush in as soon as you hear bub wake. You don’t want to give baby the message it’s okay to wake at 6am now. So, if she normally wakes at 7.00am, but it is now 6am, wait 10 minutes on the first day, twenty the next, 6.30am on the next and by the end of the week your baby’s schedule should be adjusted to the new time, waking up at their usual hour.

On night four, get in line with the new time so your baby is back to going to bed when the clock says 7pm. Adjust all naps to the correct time on the fourth day as well.

For “Spring Forward” the same ‘split the difference’ rule applies. If naptime was usually 9.30am, it is now 10am. The same goes for the afternoon nap and if bedtime is usually 7pm it is now 7.30pm. This means that baby will be going to bed a little earlier or sooner than the normal, but again it’s not too much so that it will interfere with her schedule. It may take her more time to fall asleep since she may not be as tired, but after a week she will be back on track.

Again, on the fourth day, move to the correct time on the clock again.

Give it time and know that within a week or two your baby will be back on track!

Contact our sleep consultant today to book your free introductory consultation.


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