Sleep Through the “Spring Forward” Time Change
That wonderful time of year that brings warmth, blissful time outdoors, and bright days (and evenings) is just around the corner. With that comes the “Spring Forward” time change. Although the extra hour of daylight is much welcomed after a long winter, it also brings some challenges with it:
- The time change can throw off our natural circadian rhythm for a few days while we adjust. Some can take a full week to adjust.
- Our littles may insist that it cannot possibly be bedtime when it is still obviously daytime outside.
Luckily, there are ways to help ease this transition:
Method 1: Gradual Transition
Go with an earlier bedtime for the first couple of nights after the change. Remember, it feels like it is an hour later for our children. We still want to respect their sleep windows and avoid going into the overtired zone while transitioning. If your child’s regular bedtime is at 7 pm (pre-time change), try 7:45 pm the first night (remember this will feel like 6:45 pm), and move bedtime back in 15-minute increments each night.
It can be helpful to move mealtimes to match these changes when you choose this method.
Some children adjust well to a full hour change all at once, while some need a more gradual transition.
Method 2: Jump Right In
Follow the clock and do everything at your normal times. This means wake up will be at 7 am (instead of 6 am according to the old clock), and everything else in the day will happen according to the new time. If you have an early riser, this would be the best route for you, as your child may leave their early rising habits behind! If your schedule demands that your child be up at 6 am, then wake them at 6 am according to the new time and adjust your day accordingly.
**NOTE: Eating also helps to “set” our circadian rhythm – if you keep bedtime later, but mealtime at the regular old time, awakenings in the morning will likely shift earlier. If you are hoping to stick to the later wake-up time, you must also shift meals later too.
- Protect naps! Naps are always important, but especially important during a transition such as this.
- Enjoy the bright days! Get outside as early as possible in the day. Bundle up if it is cold because it is worth it getting nature’s help on the circadian rhythm reset. Another option is opening as many windows as you can to let the wonderful light in.
- Blackout blinds can be a lifesaver for the toddlers and preschoolers desperately trying to convince you that daytime means awake time.
- If you try the “Jump Right In” method and it isn’t working, take a step back and try the gradual method.
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Andrea Moore is a Certified Gentle Sleep Coach, and founder of Blissful Nights. As a former exhausted parent and mom to three busy little kids, Andrea fully understands the toll extreme sleep deprivation can take. As a Gentle Sleep Coach, Andrea works with tired parents of infants and small children, helping them gently and lovingly teach their children invaluable sleep skills. As the children learn to sleep, parents are reunited with their own long-lost and desperately missed uninterrupted sleep.