March 5, 2018

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It’s that time again – time to change the clocks! Sunday, March 11th we spring the clock forward by one hour for the beginning of daylight savings time. Springing forward may not cause quite as much schedule damage as falling back, but it can cause some bumps for the very sensitive sleeper. So here are some tips to get you through the transition.

 

 

Remember our internal clocks are powerful things. Although we will try hard to conform to a schedule our child’s internal clock will defy us. You can try your best to get your toddler in bed at 7:30pm but his internal clock will be screaming “it’s only 6:30pm!” My suggestion is respect it. Although you don’t want to get totally off track with a routine that’s working, I suggest most families split the difference for a few days. With this option, you shift the schedule by 30 minutes. It’s a nice way to account for the changes caused by daylight savings time yet still sticking to a realistic schedule.

There are two main things that drive your child’s schedule: sunlight and routine. Simply put, sunlight tell us it’s time to wake up (and stay awake) and darkness tells us it is time to sleep. Our circadian rhythm is a natural biological way to control our daily schedules. This is one of the reasons it is so important to expose our children to sunlight during the day! However, as we approach summer our days will get longer and you may find that the extra light is impacting bedtime (making it later) and wake-up time (making it earlier). If this becomes an issue, the easiest solution is investing in some good room darkening shades or blackout blinds. The visual cue of the bedroom being dark will help keep your sleep plan on track.

 

 

 

 

Some good news for parents that are struggling with early rising – that is children waking before 6am – the spring forward of the clocks can reset your child’s clock and make wake-up a more realistic time. Start your day on the “new clock” and stick to it right through to bedtime, with any luck you could a have a new routine in place.

Keeping a fairly consistent daily routine will also help with the transition. You hear me talk about it all the time, children thrive on routine. A bedtime routine that is consistently giving cues that it is time for sleep will keep your plan on track. So keep it calm and quiet. A daily routine that is predictable will help your baby or toddler adjust to the new time faster as well.

The biggest challenge that I find for parents during these time changes in ensuring that children make it to bedtime without getting overtired. That means you have to make naps an absolute priority. Watch for sleep cues and keep the pre-nap routine calm and not overly stimulating. Most important, don’t forget an early bedtime is always an option if you find that your little one just can’t make it to their scheduled time. Early bedtimes do NOT equal early mornings!

For the most part children adjust to the new time within a week, but some will take longer. Most babies and toddlers will adjust to the time change quickly, but for others, it can take weeks, especially for those sleep sensitive ones. Don’t panic, stick to your consistent plan and things should work themselves out. Of course, if they don’t, you can always contact Family Bliss for help!

Visit www.familybliss.ca for information on sleep consultation packages or more sleep tips on managing the time change.