Don’t Let the Time Change Scare You! How to “Fall Back” Without Fuss

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Guess what?  Halloween night after the tricking and treating is over and the kids are in bed, (probably later than usual because of Halloween excitement and too much sugar!) the clocks will rewind one hour.  November 1, 2015 is when Daylight Savings Time ends.

This used to mean an extra hour of blissful sleep! Alas, not anymore.

Most families are “petrified” that with the time change, their 6:00 a.m. risers will be waking at the frightful hour of 5:00 a.m., which of course is natural and may happen for a few days until their bodies shift to the new schedule.

The good news is you can take a few steps to minimize the impact of the time change if you start early so that the Sunday morning after Halloween can be as lazy as you want it to be!

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Here are some options:

  • Start early:  Shift the entire daily schedule later, in 15 minute intervals,  starting about 4 days prior to daylight savings.  That means starting Wednesday or Thursday and includes meals, naps, activities, as well as bedtimes.  If your child usually naps at 9:00am and 1:00pm and goes to sleep at 7:00 p.m, shift the nap to 9:15 a.m. and 1:15 p.m. and bedtime to 7:15  p.m. on Thursday, then 9:30 a.m.  and 1:30 p.m. and 7:30  p.m.  bedtime on Friday and so on.  By Sunday, your baby will be fully adjusted. The same schedule shifts applies to meals and activities.
  • Do nothing:  Kids who are well-rested, adaptable, and on predictable sleep schedules will adjust to the new time easily over the course of just a few days.  The key is to move to the new time as quickly as possible while respecting their sleep cues that might indicate they are tired a little earlier than usual.   Remember they may wake earlier for a few days (if they usually wake at 6:30 a.m., then they may arise at 5:30 a.m. at first), but encourage them to stay in bed as much as possible so that their clocks can reset.  Remember earlier wake ups may mean that they may be tired earlier for naps and bedtime.  Respect that, and don’t push them to the point of becoming overtired.  Expect naps and bedtime may occur 30 minutes earlier for a couple days while they adjust to the new time.

Whichever of the two  techniques you choose, here are three keys to success:

  1. Expose your child to bright light in the early evening for 2 days (Saturday and Sunday).   Light exposure in the early evening for a couple days can tremendously help reset your child’s circadian rhythm, or internal biological clock, quickly.   This won’t be hard on Halloween night while you’re outside gathering treats!
  2. Keep them in the dark in the morning. Since it will be lighter earlier in the morning, remember to make your child’s room as dark as possible to increase the chances they will stay asleep.  Remember darkness increases melatonin, our internal sleep hormone,  production, while light inhibits it.  Dark rooms in the morning can mean the difference between a 5:00a.m. riser and a 6:00a.m. riser.
  3. Watch for sleepy cues.  If your child usually goes to bed at 7:00 p.m.,  then she may be tired by 6:00pm for a couple nights after the clocks change.  Watch for sleep cues and avoid overtired meltdowns by getting her in bed a bit earlier for a few days while her internal clock gradually shifts to the new time.  The same holds true for naps.  Most kids will adjust to the new time within a week if not sooner.

I hope your Daylight Savings end isn’t as spooky as at may seem to be!

Please let me know if you have any questions or need additional help with the time transition or any other sleep issue your child may have: [email protected].

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After graduating with a B.A. in Psychology from Dartmouth and an M.D. from Cornell Medical School, Rebecca Kempton worked for several years as a medical director for healthcare technology and pharmaceutical companies before becoming certified as an infant and toddler sleep consultant and starting her own business, Baby Sleep Pro. With her three children, aged  five and under, along with dozens of clients nationwide, Rebecca has honed her sleep coaching skills. Using a variety of behavioral techniques, she customizes sleep solutions  based on what she learns about you, your child, and your family’s goals; Rebecca works with clients  nationwide by phone, video chats and email. For more information, email [email protected]; visit babysleeppro.com and follow her on facebook.com/babysleeppro and twitter @babysleeppro

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