It’s hard not to love Fall, right?! We finally get a break from the sweltering heat as cooler mornings to start to emerge, leaves begin to change (well, at least I hear they do that in some parts of the country), there is football or festivals every weekend, and pumpkins and pumpkin spiced lattes are all around us.
What’s the catch? It’s the end of Daylight Savings Time. So, who’s excited about it getting dark around 5:00 pm?? This girl isn’t, but alas, the time change is inevitable.
We know what the time change means for us; we get an extra hour of sleep in the morning. WOOHOO! But, what does it mean for our little ones? Yep, you guessed it! They are likely to wake up extra and steal that hour from you. NOOOO!
HERE ARE A FEW TIPS TO HELP MAKE THE TIME CHANGE TRANSITION A LITTLE SMOOTHER FOR YOUR CHILD:
1. Take into consideration your child’s age and his sleep temperament.
A younger child that takes 2 or 3 naps may have a harder time adapting to the time change than an older child and will most likely need to acclimate gradually. The same goes for a sensitive sleeper. This is a child has a small window in which he will easily fall asleep and if the window is missed he will either be extra cranky or get a second wind, both resulting in him having a hard time falling asleep. If your child is younger or a sensitive sleeper, you may want to adjust him 3-5 days prior to Daylight Savings Time ending. For more on how to accomplish this see my PREVIOUS POST.
If your child is older and no longer napping, or only takes 1, or if he is more “go with the flow” when it comes to his sleep habits, he may need little to no intervention to prepare for the time change. At the most, you may want to put him to bed a half hour early the night before and wake him a half hour later the following morning.
2. Have a good bedtime routine in place.
Bedtime routines can be a strong signal to the child’s body it is time to prepare for sleep. If done consistently it can cue the production of MELATONIN, making it easier for the child to fall asleep. Having a good routine in place before the time change will make for a much smoother transition.
3. Make sure the sleep environment is dark enough.
Soon it will be daylight when your child wakes up. If sunlight is creeping into your child’s bedroom, he is more likely to wake early. Total darkness promotes the best quality sleep. For a quick, easy way to darken your child’s bedroom, I recommend BlackoutEZ shades. Installation is simple and they are very effective in getting your child’s room dark enough. (As an added bonus, these shades can help reduce your heating and cooling bill and minimize outside noises!)
4. Stick to your schedule.
Once Daylight Savings Time has ended keep your daily schedule the same. If your child wakes at 6:30 am then 6:30 am will continue to be his wake time. If you eat dinner at 5:30 pm, you will continue to eat dinner at 5:30 pm. Doing this will help your child adjust more quickly.
If you have a child that is not confined to a crib, you may want to use some type of alarm clock or sleep aid. My FAVORITE is the Sleeper Hero and you can read why here, but there are also other options available such as the Okay to Wake Clock that I reccomend as well. These will help your child understand when it is time to sleep and when it is okay for them to get up for the day. Make sure you adjust the clocks one these each day if you helping your child adjust more gradually prior to the time change.
5. Expose your child to sunlight.
Sun exposure will help reset your child’s biological clock and help them remain on a schedule. Try to go outside in the morning and before dinner to help them adjust.
After your child goes to bed on Saturday night (November 4th) turn back any clocks that do not automatically adjust to one hour earlier.
As with anything related to sleep training, CONSISTENCY IS THE KEY TO YOUR SUCCESS. Your child may not adapt to the changes overnight but remain consistent in your efforts and he will adjust to the new schedule within a few days to a week.