Daylight Saving Time – Spring Forward for Sleep

By Renee Wasserman February 26, 2016
Winter feels as though it is dragging on, so it’s a welcome sign that Daylight Saving Time (DST) is just around the corner. On Sunday, March 13, the clocks will be turned an hour forward. I’m hoping this means that spring is around the corner. These cold days have me longing for warmer weather, longer days for the kids to play outside, and spring flowers! I don’t know about you, but I’ve had just about enough of winter.

The good news is that “springing forward” is less problematic for our little ones than “falling back,” when the end of Daylight Saving Time happens in the fall. Some lucky parents may even be able to get their early risers to wake a bit later in the morning.

Before your bedtime on Saturday night, turn your clocks ahead one hour. If your child usually sleeps until 6 a.m., the next morning she will, most likely, sleep until 7 a.m. For those of you who have early risers, you can use this time change to your advantage to help your little one get on a later schedule. Her entire day will shift an hour later (which includes naps, bedtime, meals, etc.).

If the later wake time works in your favor, then you do not need to do much. With the sun rising earlier in the morning, use room darkening or blackout shades to keep out any early morning sunlight that may creep through. (Even black garbage bags taped to the windows work well.) A sound machine set on the white noise setting will help muffle outside noises such as barking dogs or early morning birds that may be waking your baby.

Daylight Saving Time Tips
If your little one needs some help to get back to her regular schedule, try these suggestions:
  • On Saturday night, put your child down for the night at her regular time.
  • On Sunday, wake your child at the time that she normally wakes (6 a.m., 6:30 a.m., 7 a.m.) according to the new time.
  • If your little one is still napping, keep her at her regular nap times according to the new clock. If your baby is more sensitive to schedule changes, you can start the naps 30 minutes earlier than usual (according to the new time) and gradually, over the next several days, extend the beginning of the nap to the regular start time.
  • On Sunday night, put her down at her regular bedtime (according to the new time).
  • Continue with her well-established schedule according to the new time (same wake times, nap times, bed times, and feeding times).
Be sure to expose your child to lots of natural light throughout the day and continue with all of your normal activities to help reset her internal clock to the new time.

Although it will be light outside later into the evening, avoid letting your little one’s bedtime drift further out, and be sure to put her to bed at the time she needs. An overtired child leads to a child who has difficulty falling asleep, more night time wakings, and early wakings in the morning. A well-rested child leads to a happier child and a happier mom and dad!

However you decide to handle Daylight Saving Time, be patient with yourself and your child. Keep in mind that it may take up to a week for your child to adjust.

Renee Wasserman, PT, MPH, founder of SleepyHead Solutions, is a Family Sleep Institute-certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant. She offers many services including phone, email, Skype/FaceTime, and in-person consultations to solve your child’s sleep challenges. Feel free to email her with any questions. You can find out more information at her website and on her Facebook page.