Well, it’s “spring forward” time again, which means you’ve set the clocks ahead and are probably losing sleep. As many of you already know, I am not a fan or this time of year! I think daylight savings wreaks havoc on our sleep schedules and can increase sleep debt in both kids and adults. There is actually an 8% increase in traffic accidents the day after daylight savings, which just goes to show that it’s hard on people. We are already a sleep-deprived nation, so losing that extra hour only makes it worse (and more dangerous).
HOWEVER, I do get that it’s a fact of life, at least for now, so we just need to be creative with how we handle it.
When you’re sleep training a child, this disruption to schedule can be especially frustrating. I get many calls and emails from parents wondering how to deal with the time change when they’ve finally got their baby used to going down at 7:00 pm every night and waking up at the same time in the morning. They’re confused, and rightly so: In the spring, does this mean putting baby down at 8:00 because it was 7:00 the day before? Or do they just put their child to bed an hour later, at the NEW 7:00? Sigh.
No need to despair. I have spent a lot of time thinking about this (irritating) time of year, and I have developed a method that will help you get through it all and get your child’s sleep back to normal within a week or two.
Here’s my # 1 tip: Split the difference
Basically, I don’t think it works to either ignore the time difference completely at bedtime OR to change the bedtime by a full hour. This is too hard on your child’s internal clock and can make for cranky babies who are either being put to bed way earlier than normal or way later.
But I’ve discovered that a half-hour is manageable. So, after you’ve set your clocks forward, move all nap times and bedtimes forward 30 minutes. This means that if your baby went down for a nap at 11 a.m. BEFORE the time change, today’s nap time should be 11:30 (which will feel like 10:30).
Same thing for afternoon naps and bedtime. If your child usually goes to bed for the night at 7:00 p.m., tonight’s bedtime should be 7:30 (which will feel like 6:30).
This should only take a few days to adjust. Try this until Wednesday, and by Thursday you should be able to move all nap times and bedtimes to their regularly scheduled times. Yes, the kids might fuss a bit because they are going to bed a little earlier than they are used to. It’s not ideal, I know, but your child will be back on track before you know it.
If you’re looking for a complete, step-by-step system designed to get your child sleeping 11+ hours through the night, you can check out The Sleep Sense Program.
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