The start to Daylight Saving Time is approaching! This means we spring forward an hour on the clock, "losing" an hour of sleep from Saturday, March 7th to Sunday, March 8th. For example, what is now 6:30AM will become 7:30AM.
You might be tempted to have your child sleep in on Sunday. And this MIGHT be a good option for your child. However, if you need to keep your child on the same current clock schedule, you will want to consider how you plan to help your child adjust to the new time.
For older children, it might not matter much. They can adjust pretty well, especially if already a well-rested child. However, younger children or children who are overtired have a harder time adjusting to schedule changes. Here are some guidelines for how to help your child adjust to this change.
Perhaps your child has been waking early in the morning and you actually want him to wake later. (I know several of you are like, "PLEASE! YES!!! SLEEP PAST 6AM!) Well, if this is your child, then springing forward in time can be used to your advantage. Don't make any changes leading up to that Sunday. Instead, your child's entire schedule will shift forward an hour starting on that Sunday.
You will need to shift nap time, bedtime, and meals. This will help you keep a similar schedule but just later into the day. Keep in mind that your child's duration of wake time and sleep time won't change. He will still have the same highs and lows in his circadian rhythm. The only difference will be what time the clock reads.
BUT, if you need/want to keep your child on the same schedule once the time changes, you can help your child gradually adjust to this schedule in a few of ways.
OPTION 1 The week leading up to the end of Daylight Saving Time, gradually move your child's ENTIRE schedule earlier 10-15 minutes every day. This includes wake time, naps, bedtime, and meals. Once you get to Sunday, the clock will have changed and you will be back on your regular schedule.
OPTION 2 Start to gradually move your child's ENTIRE schedule 10-15 minutes per day starting Friday morning with the wake time. This includes wake time, naps, bedtime, and meals. Once you reach Sunday, you will be halfway through the adjustment. Finish the adjustment after the time change.
OPTION 3 The week after Daylight Saving Time, gradually move your child's ENTIRE schedule later 10-15 minutes every day. Again, this includes wake time, naps, bedtime, and meals. Your child will wake on Sunday an hour later on the clock, which will be your child's original biological schedule. Every day, you will move the schedule earlier until you are at to the usual or desired schedule.
OPTION 4 Cold turkey! The morning of the time change, wake your child at the clock time that would normally be your child's schedule. Aka, you basically will be waking your child an hour earlier than she is use to waking. As with all the other options, the entire schedule should shift - wake time, naps, bedtime, and meals.
Note, if your child is already having difficulties sleeping or doesn't adjust well to change, you will want to make the adjustment more gradual. Meaning you might need to use smaller daily increments to adjust the schedule, requiring more days to plan for the shift. And remember! You will need to adjust your child's ENTIRE schedule every day that you make adjustments!
If you're like, "Ha! Crazy lady! What schedules?!" I can help you with that. Click here to download my document "What Does Working with a Child Sleep Consultant Entail" to learn about my services.