Can a Sunrise Simulator Help You and Your Baby Survive the Time Change?

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Can A Sunrise Simulator Help You Survive Daylight Savings?If you’re the parent of a small child, you know that Daylight Saving Time (DST) can be maddening (all the non-parents or parents to older children rave about the extra hour they get — yeah right!). That little one hour difference in time can really wreak havoc your child’s sleep schedule. Suddenly, your baby’s up and raring to go at 5 a.m. instead of her usual 6 a.m.

Not the way mom and dad would choose to start the day, right? But who can blame her? After all, just a few days ago, 5 a.m. WAS 6 a.m.

Options To Help Parents Cope With DST

Fact: We can’t exactly alter our children’s inner clocks immediately. Fortunately, though, we don’t have to take the aftermath of DST lying down, either — we have options!

A few years ago, Nicole wrote this article for Working Mother, in which she laid out a number of strategies exhausted parents can use to help their babies and toddlers adjust to the time change. And we’ve written about coping with DST here on our own blog before, too — check out this article for more ideas about ways you can manage those first few weeks after turning the clocks back.

Nicole’s Note
“We are already getting questions in the Helpdesk about adjusting the kids’ schedules, including why we need to change our clocks anyway! Read this article for an explanation and discussion on whether it does, in fact, save energy.”

An Unconventional Option — The Sunrise Simulator Alarm Clock

But just when we think we’ve shared all there was about Daylight Savings, our fabulous readers share their own! :) That happened a few weeks ago; Baby Sleep Site® reader Jessey e-mailed us recently and shared her own method for dealing with the trauma of DST:

I just wanted to share a little discovery we’ve just made in case you could share it with others. With winter coming on, our mornings are very dark until around 7 AM (we live in Colorado). Our little boy goes to bed between 6 and 6:30 and we do not go and get him until after 6 AM (no night feedings anymore, but occasional hiccups here and there).

I was really struggling with how in the world he would know the difference between 5:30 AM and 6 AM when it is just dark. So, I put one of those sunrise simulator alarm clocks in his room. It starts lighting up at 6 AM – very low light at first and then gets brighter. It seems to be working like a charm. Sometimes he’ll wake up too early and it’s still dark and he’ll go back to sleep. Once the light starts coming on he’ll play in his crib for a little bit and then we’ll go in and get him.

Of course, we were intrigued. So we did some hunting, and we found this highly-rated sunrise simulator alarm clock on Amazon.com — the Philips Wake-Up Light.

How does it work? Simple — it simulates the sunrise, allowing your baby or toddler to wake up naturally and gradually, just like he would if the sun were coming up. And, as Jessey mentions in her e-mail, the flip side is that once your little one is used to waking up with this, when he does wake too early and finds it’s still dark, he’ll likely go back to sleep. This might mean an end to your baby or toddler waking at an unholy hour of the morning!

So, Does A Sunrise Simulator Actually Work?

According to many Amazon reviewers, and according to our very own Jessey, the answer is yes.

Still a skeptic? Take three minutes and watch this fun video, in which a team from Philips attempts to trick a rooster (named Simon) into crowing during the middle of the night, using the Philips Wake-Up Light. It’ll make you smile, I promise!

Join The Conversation!

We know Jessey isn’t the only Baby Sleep Site® reader out there with unique and insightful sleep tips. So we’re waiting for the rest of you to chime in — how do you cope with the days and weeks after the time change? How do you keep your babies and toddlers sleeping well?

Share your DST sleep tips below!

Time change got you down? Afraid that “falling back” will destroy your little one’s sleep schedule? Please be sure to pick up your FREE copy of 5 (tear-free) Ways to Help Your Child Sleep Through the Night, our e-Book with tear-free tips to help your baby sleep better. For those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3-Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep (babies) or The 5-Step System to Better Toddler Sleep (toddlers). Using a unique approach and practical tools for success, our e-books help you and your baby sleep through the night and nap better. Have a newborn at home? Download our free guide on newborn sleep, 15 Baby Sleep Facts New Parents Need To Know, or purchase a copy of our comprehensive e-Book on newborn sleep, Essential Keys to Your Newborn’s Sleep. Or, join our Members Area packed with exclusive content and resources: e-Books, assessments, detailed case studies, expert advice, peer support, and teleseminars. It actually costs less to join than buying products separately! For those looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation with support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations, where you will receive a Personalized Sleep Plan™ you can feel good about! Sometimes it’s not that you can’t make a plan. Sometimes you’re just too tired to.

Disclosure: The Baby Sleep Site® is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and other product affiliate programs. If you click on a product link above and make a purchase, The Baby Sleep Site® may (but not always) receive a small commission from the company selling the product. This commission will not affect your purchase price. We only recommend products that we believe are quality products and good for our readers.

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12 Responses to Can a Sunrise Simulator Help You and Your Baby Survive the Time Change?

  1. Meagan says:

    Not to be all Pollyanna-ish, but it helps to look on the bright side? With our son getting up an hour “early” thats an hour less rushing around in the morning for all of us. Of course it also helps that we’d been gradually pushing bedtime back anyway… Not because of amazing foresight mind you, but because of a solid month of travel (including some on the west coast) followed by realizing with the later sunrise, a later bedtime meant he would sometimes sleep as late as 8! 8 changing back to 7 is much easier to deal with than 6-5… And I’m happy to be back on our normal 8:30 bedtime. If anything… The late bedtime was wearing me out, so end of DST was a saving grace.

    Of course, LAST year, with a 7 month old, I remember it being MUCH more traumatic.

  2. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ Meagan — good reminder to focus on the positive side of things. :) I’m finding that as my kids have gotten older, the DST “trauma” is fading. My youngest is 16 months, and while the time change has thrown her off a bit (she’s been up every morning at 5:30, instead of her usual 6:30), it hasn’t seemed to affect my boys (5 and 3.5) at all. So there’s a silver lining, too — it gets better!

  3. Jim Klakring says:

    haha that’s a really cool video. I like the rooster and natural sun rise light. I like how you give hope to parents that are struggling with it, it’s a real thing and it’s about time someone tackles this!

  4. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ Jim Klakring — thanks for your kind feedback! Glad you enjoyed the video :)

  5. Sana says:

    Hi,

    Hoping someone can help… This is a good article but my son is bow waking up at 4:30am and not going back to sleep (vs 6-6:30 pre DST change). On top of that he has stopped napping. He just screams for over an hour in his crib…. I lay him down drowsy and it takes him a few seconds but once I’m out the room, he’s up. He fell asleep standing up for a couple days and the the last two days, he didn’t sleep at all. He will sleep in my arms if I let him but I don’t want to start that habit. So by 5pm he’s pooped and goes to bed without a fight. He used to go to bed at 6:30. Used to nap at 12:30 for 90 minutes.

    He’s 18-months old.

    Anyone else having such a torturous time with post time-change sleep? I’m at a loss. I’m leaving him in there, letting him figure it out, and it’s not working.

    Help. :(

  6. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ Sana — I’m so sorry to hear you’re going through this! Sounds like things are very, very rough at your house right now. :(

    Here’s a thought — have you considered that it might be the time change combined with the 18 month sleep regression? (You can read about that here: https://www.babysleepsite.com/baby-sleep-patterns/why-18-month-sleep-regression-can-be-hardest/)

    If you think that might be the case, you may want to try using our free guide to glean some tips and tricks for surviving this phase. (You can access the guide here: https://www.babysleepsite.com/toddler-sleep-secrets-free-guide/)

    The big thing here will just be getting through this. Easier said than done, of course, but focus on surviving this phase as best you can without helping your son forming any new sleep associations or habits that you’ll have to break later.

    Thanks for commenting, Sana, and please do let us know how it’s going and what ends up working for you!

  7. Sana says:

    Thanks so much Emily. I did figure it was the 18-month-sleep regression… plus the time change, plus a couple of missed naps leading up to it (religious holiday, older son’s field trip). I really schedule my whole life around his sleep and it’s disheartening that two of the handful of times I haven’t, this has happened shortly after.

    I’m just not sure what to do… I want him to go to sleep the way he did 2 weeks ago. I read books, sang to him, put him down, and he let sleep take over when I left the room. He still does this at night without any issue so far (except that his night wakings have come back because of the overtiredness, but we’re not responding to those anyway).

    He’ll go down after crying but then get RIGHT back up and start screaming again. I mean, he’ll literally stay down for a millisecond. Often he’ll poop from all the screaming (even if he’s already done his poop for the day) and I’ve tried going in, changing him and putting him back down but that doesn’t work either. If anything, he gets another burst of energy to start the protest all over again. So I’ve decided I just won’t go in, so that he’ll get the message. Whether he sleeps or not, he gets time in there without any interaction from me.

    This is all just typical 18-month behavior, isn’t it? Am I doing the right thing by just letting him be there and staying consistent? Yesterday I caved and let him sleep on me but he only slept 45 minutes and even then his eyes opened a few times during that “nap.” This parenting this is NO JOKE.

    Thank you for being there for so many of us. Honestly it helps even just to type it all out!

  8. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ Sana — this sounds like SUCH typical 18 month behavior to me. My boys once had a wonderful, wise pediatrician who let me know that the “terrible twos” actually start around 18 months and don’t end until after 4. How nice, right? ;)

    Sounds like it’s just been a perfect storm of sleep regression, schedule disruption, and DST at your house, and that’s more than likely what’s causing your little guy’s drama.

    As for what to do about it — your call sounds good to me. It’s entirely up to you, of course, but I’ve always taken a similar approach — to offer comfort as appropriate, but to make sure that we don’t create any new sleep habits or issues as we ride out a tough sleep phase. So in my history as a mom, there have definitely been times when I’ve grit my teeth and let my toddler wail through a nap, or for the first hour or so of bedtime. That approach isn’t for everyone, by any means, but if it works for you, have at it. :)

    Hang in there, Sana! You can do it!

  9. Sana says:

    Ain’t that the truth! And teenage years in my house have started at 5. :)

    Thanks Emily! And thanks to Nicole for starting this sight!

  10. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ Sana — Oh, no — 5 year old teenagers sounds rough! ;)

  11. Carla says:

    Thank you for sharing the video of the rooster. Absolutely hilarious!

    I was wondering if there was something like this “out there” – something to signal to my 3-year old that it’s okay to get up now (“just because you’re awake, doesn’t mean it’s time to get up”). He’s been waking up at 5 am after only 9 hours of sleep, refusing to go back to sleep, and having difficulty taking a nap now. I’d say that’s some sleep regression. Perhaps this light would help.

  12. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ Carla — worth a try! I know from experience how frustrating it can be when a toddler (or kindergartener, in my case) is waking WAY too early. I was up at 5:15 this morning, with my 5 year old.

    Maybe I need to try one of these……

    Thanks for commenting, Carla! :)