To mention the time change to a sleep deprived parent is like waving a red flag in front of a bull. It’s a touchy subject however as a Certified Gentle Sleep Coach and owner of Happy Little Sleepers I can tell you that the Spring forward time change really doesn’t need to be terrifying. In fact it can actually help reset the body clock of some of our early morning risers!
Sunday March 12th 2017 at 2am is the official day we put our clocks forward one hour for spring. Yes, I said it ‘Spring’. Just typing it makes me happy and optimistic that spring really can’t be too far away. It’s hard to believe with yet more snow falling onto our still frozen sidewalks. Daylight Savings is almost upon us so lets cross our fingers and hope that the warmer weather will soon follow.
What does the time change mean for your child and their sleep?
The good news is that when we ‘Spring Forward’ the time transition for our children is a little easier than in the Fall. (We do lose one hour of sleep but lets just keep thinking about the sunshine and warmth we will get in return and how much quicker it is to leave the house when you don’t have to fight to get all those wiggly fingers into mitts!)
Pick one of these simple methods to ensure a smooth transition to Daylight Saving Time.
- The Gradual Method, this is the method to adopt if your child is sensitive to change. Start on Wednesday night and push bedtime out by 15 minutes each night until you have changed the time by one hour. If you are lucky your little person will sleep in the extra 15 minutes the following morning. If they spring awake at their usual time try to keep them in the dark that extra 15 minutes. Waiting to expose their bodies to light will help to reset their body clock. It only takes a few days for most of us to adapt to the new time.
- The Cold Turkey Approach, if your child is adaptable and laid back for the most part you may not have to do much at all. When your baby wakes up Sunday morning immediately switch all meals, naps and activities to the new time. It may be challenging to keep them up until the new bedtime but if you let them take a slightly longer nap during the day this should help them plough through without an over tired melt down at dinner time!
- The Catch up, this is the method to use if you are reading this on Sunday or later! I have included this method because I have been completely oblivious to the time change in years past. Sleep deprivation and mommy brain will do that to you. In simple terms it’s the Gradual Method but applied to the days after the time change.
Whichever method you choose try to avoid letting your little one sleep longer in the morning to make up for lost sleep. Tempting I know but it will throw off the rest of their day and prolong the transition time.
Summer Tips (Because I KNOW that summer can’t be all that far away)
Along with the summer sun comes longer days. This means sipping on your favorite slushy drink on the deck then attempting to put your child to bed while it’s still light outside. Followed by a dose of early morning rising due to the brilliant light streaming into the bedroom at the crack of dawn.
I recommend using black out blinds all year long but the summer months are when you will really feel the benefits. If you have a toddler you may have already experienced how challenging it can be to convince them to go to bed and stay there while it’s still light outside. Darkness encourages our brains to produce Melatonin, the sleepy chemical. Start your baby’s bedtime routine in a darkened room and give their bodies a chance to prepare for sleep. If light is pouring into your child’s room they may have trouble napping during the day and staying asleep in the morning and none of us want to start our day at 5am if we can avoid it!
Need a little extra help with the transition? Or perhaps you would like some gentle, developmentally appropriate tips on teaching independent sleep skills over night? Drop us an email or set up a time for a complimentary sleep assessment.
Amanda Dadd, Certified Gentle Infant & Toddler Sleep Coach, www.happylittlesleepers.com
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Author: Amanda Dadd, GSC
Certified Gentle Sleep Coach and owner of Happy Little Sleepers. Dedicated to empowering parents during the sleep coaching process using proven yet gentle sleep solutions. Spokesperson for The Baby Time Show, interviewed by CTV News, Rogers TV and featured in various publications.