As we approach “Spring Forward” for Daylight Savings Time (DST), many parents begin to dread the loss of sleep and the abrupt change to routine. The fear of the loss of progress we have made in getting our kids to sleep feels threatened- you are not in alone in feeling like this but FEAR NOT! Most children will adjust naturally based on the changes to daylight and darkness (our bodies are quite adept to adjusting to time changes!).
Here are a few strategies for managing this transition:
1) Gradual Adjustment Before Sunday: If your little one is sensitive to changes in time, then you may want to begin to adjust their schedule a week or so before DST. You can simply do this by bringing their entire sleep schedule earlier by 15 minutes every few days (start with their wake up time and then continue with naps and bedtime). They should be fully adjusted by the time DST comes around!
2) Do Nothing: Many families will do nothing in advance of DST and will simply allow their child to wake up later, nap later, and go to bed later on Sunday… this will likely continue for a few days, but their biological/circadian rhythm will soon regulate back to their original sleep schedule. This is typically the easiest approach!
3) Adjust Schedule on Sunday: Under this strategy, you’d wake your child up at their usual wake time and then do naps and bedtimes at the same time as always (essentially, you’re simply following the new clock).
How does this apply to early risers? If your child is an early riser, DST has the potential to work in your favor! Don’t wake them up until your preferred wake up time. You’ll then shift their entire schedule later to match up to the later wake up time (including meals, naps, and bedtime). While most early risers will return to their early wake ups within a few days, some will stay on the later schedule. If you have an early riser, remember that there are likely underlying causes (such as not getting enough sleep, too late of a bedtime, etc.) that are contributing to the early rising. This is where a sleep consultant can help!
Stick to all of your routines through this transition and know that regardless of the strategy you implement, your little one will be back to their circadian rhythm soon!