Some of you just got over the fall time change and now in a few weeks, we spring forward one hour. Just when you think you were out, they pull you back in! 🙂 Fortunately, many of you are hoping for good things to come out of this time change, if your baby is waking too early and are excited at the prospect of “sleeping in” (after kids that means, what? 8 a.m. Ha!). Here is your Spring Forward Sleep Survival Guide with Kids. In honor of Spring Forward, you can also use coupon code “SPRING25” to receive 25% OFF any service from now until March 8th, the day of the time change. Just log in to my baby sleep helpdesk to get started!
In the U.S. and Canada, the time changes on Sunday, March 8, 2009. In Europe, the time will change the last Sunday in March, on the 29th. Just as a reminder, the reason we have Daylight Savings is that it allows us to use less energy in lighting our homes by having longer and later daylight hours. Nowadays, it’s more important than ever for us to be more “green”.
Spring Forward Sleep Strategies
Your first option is to not do anything. If your baby or toddler or young child is going to sleep at 7 p.m., he will wake up at 8 a.m. the next day. Yay! You get to “sleep in” and all is right with the world. If you want to keep this schedule, you will put him down at the same times you always do and bedtime will be one hour later.
For some, the first option isn’t really an option because they need their child up by a certain time or don’t want to have an 8 p.m. (or later) bedtime. Maybe your child is already going to bed too late and the time change will make her go to bed even later, which has you wondering just when you will spend any time with your spouse or partner or clean the house or relax or whatever.
If you don’t want your future schedule, you will need to take steps to prevent it. After all, you can’t “sleep in” until 8 a.m. and then expect your child to automatically feel sleepy at the new 7 p.m., when it’s really 6 p.m. Your second option is to wake your baby one hour early the day of the time change whereby he will nap one hour earlier and go to bed one hour earlier, normal time on the clock. There is only one caution. Some people’s internal clock is so strong that no matter what time they wake up, they won’t get sleepy until their “normal” time. That means even if you wake your child an hour earlier, he might not nap early or go to sleep early at bedtime. Imagine you get up at 5 a.m. one day to catch a flight or to get to work for an early meeting. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you will go to bed at 9 p.m. just because you usually go to bed at 10 p.m.
Your third and final option, just like in the Fall, is to split the difference and wake your child just half an hour early and move his schedule slower over the course of 2-3 days. This is likely the option I will take because my kids are currently waking around 7 a.m., but bedtimes are around 7:30 p.m. for the younger, but 8 to 8:30 p.m. for the older. I really don’t want that 8:30 p.m. bedtime getting any later!!!
Whatever the path you choose to take, some kids will just take a few days to even a week or longer to really adjust. Your best bet is to keep to the schedule you make. The light stimulating our eyes and your morning and night routines will be most what drives your kids’ schedules. The same internal clock that drives our sleep schedules also drives our appetites. If you typically have dinner at 5:30 p.m. and bedtime is 7 p.m., it will probably be difficult to maintain a 6:30 p.m. dinner and 8 p.m. bedtime. Whatever drove you to have the 5:30 p.m. dinner in the first place likely has not changed. Just remember to be realistic and not to just focus on one part of the schedule (i.e. just bedtime or just lunch) and set the whole schedule accordingly. The rest will follow.