Fall Back: Daylight Savings Sleep Transition Tips

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  • October 24, 2013

daylight savingsMark your calendars: On Sunday, November 3rd at 2:00 a.m. most of us need to set our clocks back one hour.

Summer always seems to fly by in my house. In fact, it hasn’t been summer for over a month (the first day of fall was September 22)! But with the warmer weather that some of us have been lucky enough to experience, I think that the end of Daylight Savings Time may be creeping up faster that we’d like.


Daylight savings time ends at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, November 3rd.


Before children, many of us are able to relish in that extra hour of sleep, but as a parent, gaining an hour means that your children’s schedules are thrown off, sleep may become a challenge (for a few days, anyway), and “falling back” becomes about mitigating the inevitable overtired, cranky kids.

Similar to starting Daylight Savings time in the Spring, here are a few tips help your children transition to the time change this fall:


Dramatic Wake Up


For most children, 6:00 a.m. is a normal, and biologically appropriate time to wake up, but because of the time change, you may find that your baby is waking earlier than normal. After all, what was 6:00 a.m. yesterday is 5:00 a.m. after the time change!

Be firm with your wake-ups, and go back to the Shuffle for a few mornings to help encourage your child to stay in bed until the NEW 6:00. If light is a problem, consider investing in some blackout curtains, and even a white noise machine if your neighborhood’s noises are the culprit.

If your baby is lucky enough to sleep until it’s time to wake, then at 6:00, go into your baby’s room and use dramatic wake up to start your day and help your baby differentiate the “new” mornings.


Migrate Bedtime


daylight savingsIf you have younger children (or those that aren’t exactly go-with-the-flow), consider moving naps and bedtime 15 to 30 minutes later for two or three days leading up to the time change. Remember, what’s 7:00 p.m. today will be 8:00 p.m. to your baby after the time change, so shifting your baby’s bedtime a bit later gradually will help to mitigate frustration and exhaustion.

Remember to pay attention to your baby’s wakefulness window and watch for sleepy cues. You may find that your baby has trouble falling asleep even 10 minutes later the first day, so plan to make this switch gradually. The end goal is to have your child back to her normal bedtime by Sunday.



A Note From The Sleep Lady: Please watch your child’s wakefulness windows and try not to miss them by too much, as that will result in an overtired, cranky baby, making it harder for to go to sleep and stay asleep  (not to mention cause more early rising).



Take an Early Morning Walk


During the first few weeks, your children may have trouble resetting their biological clocks, or circadian rhythm. Getting outside in the sunshine for 20 to 30 minutes will allow your baby to process that it’s morning, and help to resolve any confusion with her circadian rhythm.


Adjust Your Schedule


It may feel strange, but adjusting your schedule to the new clock times on Sunday morning will help everyone to transition easier. Move your meals, naps, and bedtimes to sync with the time change. You baby may need an additional bonus nap to make it until the new bedtime.

Though your family may take a few days to completely transition, a gradual change should help to mitigate cranky, tired children.

If you have any questions about Daylight Savings Time, be sure to check out my Sleep Lady Facebook Page, where we have Gentle Sleep Coaches available to answer your questions every day.

Was this article helpful to you? For more baby, toddler, and family sleep tips and tricks, please subscribe to The Sleep Lady’s Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and YouTube channel! If you are looking for more sleep content, please check out Get Sleep Now-an exclusive members-only area designed to provide in-depth help and support during your sleep coaching experience.

photo credit: blmiers2Zuhair Ahmad via photopin cc

Kim West
Kim is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been a practicing child and family therapist for more than 24 years, and the creator of the original gentle, proven method to get a good night’s sleep for you and your child. She is the author of The Sleep Lady's Good Night Sleep Tight, its companion Workbook and 52 Sleep Secrets for Babies. Click here to read more about her.

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