Fall Back: Prepare for Daylight's Savings Time
I have a confession: I adore the shorter winter days. I love cozying up with a mug of tea surrounded by candles and, in my imagination, a crackling fire. All summer long, I annoy my friends by complaining endlessly about how the (overly) long, (endlessly) sunny days.
So when autumn rolls around, I’m all for the end of Daylight Savings Time. But there’s a downside: When there’s a time change, kids’ sleep gets screwy.
It’s not their fault, it’s ours. Their internal clocks don’t know that world leaders have decided we’ll artificially control our daylight hours. Rather, their bodies wake up when they’re used to waking up. (The joke’s on us! 6am is now 5am and we have to deal with it).
As the big day approaches, you have two options:
1. Ignore the time change and hope your little one will adjust quickly. This option is for you if your child is a super adaptable sleeper or you’re reading this the night before.
2. Minimize the havoc by proactively making changes in advance of the time change. This path is for you if your child is a sensitive sleeper and/or is easily thrown by time changes.
If you have the time and mental bandwidth to prepare for the time shift, here are my top tips:
(Bonus: These also work when traveling across 1-2 time zones).
Push Bedtime Later the Week Before.
If tonight you randomly put your child to bed an hour earlier, will she be happy about it? No! It’s playtime! Unfortunately, once we shift the clocks back, this is what it’ll feel like to your little one. To combat this problem, use the week before to shift her bedtime and naps later in 10-minute increments. By Saturday night, a 7pm bedtime should be an 8pm bedtime–the next day, it’ll be back to a 7pm (clock time).
*if you don’t have time to do this fully, or your child can’t handle too late of a bedtime, that’s ok. Even shifting bedtime back a few minutes in advance can help.
Embrace the darkness.
Audit your child’s room: is it pitch black at night? Our bodies’ internal clocks are governed by exposure to light. To help your baby more quickly adjust to the time change, ensure that his sleep environment is super dark at night and expose him to natural light first thing after getting him up in the morning.
Prepare yourself for an early morning.
Even if you shift her schedule in advance, she’ll likely wake a bit earlier the first day. Last year, I scheduled a ladies’ night out the evening of the time shift. Around midnight I realized that my son would be waking upfive hours laterand booked it home.
Learn from my mistake: Go to bed a bit earlier the night before. Maybe even flip coins with your partner to see who will be getting up at the crack of dawn.
Chances are, you’re not the only parent whose little one is awake super early. Make plans to get your kids together to play–just don’t forget to assign someone to the coffee run.
You got this! With a little bit of planning, you can minimize your child’s sleep from falling apart as we fall back. (And if it gets back, just remember: it only happens twice a year).