Written by: Joleen Dilk Salyn
It’s that time of year when parents begin to wonder about the upcoming time change and how it may impact their child’s sleep routine. As a pediatric sleep consultant, I help parents get their children on healthy sleep routines, but Daylight Savings Time tends to worry parents of even the best sleepers.
The second Sunday in March is when we move the clocks ahead one hour and Daylight Savings Time begins. While this time change is usually thought of as being the easier of the two, because it doesn’t result in children waking up an hour earlier like in fall, it isn’t without its challenges.
Although losing one hour of sleep may not seem like a huge loss to an adult, to a baby or child, it can have significant repercussions, especially if they are sensitive to routine changes.
If your child is on a great routine prior to the transition, moving ahead one hour can throw that schedule off and begin to cause sleep issues a few weeks later.
In order to help manage the upcoming time change so that your child’s sleep routine has minimal disruptions, follow the three tips below.
1. Promote Good Sleep Hygiene
Having good sleep hygiene means that your child has practices in place that encourage restorative sleep on a regular basis. While this is important all year long, it is particularly important to have in place when time changes occur. A few healthy sleep hygiene habits are; having a regular wake up and bed time all week long, sleeping in a comfortably cool and dark environment, not watching TV 60-90 minutes prior to any sleep period and having a soothing wind down routine before naps and bedtime.
2. Be Proactive, Rather than Reactive
If you want to protect your child’s routine and minimize disruptions, start several days to a week before and slowly move the child’s schedule earlier each day, including nap, meal and activity times. Then, once the time change happens, your child will already be on the new clock time.
3. Be Consistent
Sleep is a biological function that is in part, regulated by when the brain perceives light. Adjusting to a time change usually takes close to a week for both adults and children while the internal body clock resets itself.
Knowing this, it is therefore important that you are consistent in your approach and maintain the same sleep rules or procedures that you had in place prior to the clocks moving ahead an hour. Your child will return to being a great sleeper after a time change, so be patient and allow their body to adjust.
Joleen Dilk Salyn is a certified pediatric sleep consultant and founder of Baby Sleep 101. She helps tired parents get their children sleeping through the night by working with the science of sleep and healthy sleep best practices through private consultations, customized sleep plans and support. Visit www.babysleep101.com for more information or tune into The Baby Sleep 101 Facebook page for a free live weekly child sleep Q&A from 8pm-9pm CST every Wednesday night.