5 Daylight Saving Time tips: How to adjust sleeping shedules
Daylight Saving Time is usually one of the first signs that warmer weather and more fun in the sun are ahead. It can also cause some short-term sleep woes as your family adjusts to the changing clock.
“The shift to Daylight Saving Time and back again can be troublesome for some kids, especially if they already struggle with sleep,” said Dr. Justin Brockbank, pulmonologist, sleep medicine specialist and experienced dad. “Even some adults have a hard time with that 60-minute shift, but it can be especially noticeable for little ones. It may take a little time for their bodies to adjust, but there are some simple things parents can do to help the process go smoothly.”
Easing the Daylight Saving Time sleep transition for kids of all ages
Start preparing in the days ahead of time
Routines, including regular sleep and wake times, are important for kids. Rather than trying to shift your family’s schedule by an hour all at once, try moving kids’ bedtime and wake up time earlier by 10 or 15 minutes each day in the days leading up to the time change. They’ll have an easier time adjusting to these incremental changes while you work to keep their bedtime consistent with that works for your family.
Be mindful of sunlight/darkness
Our bodies are used to the cues that darkness is a time for sleep and sunlight means it’s time to wake. If your child is having a hard time getting up in the morning, try opening the shades/curtains and letting the sunlight shine in. Of course, this only works if they don’t have to rise before the sun! If they need to sleep before the sun is down in the evening, room darkening window treatments can be helpful.
Avoid long naps
Gradually shifting naptime earlier can be helpful too. That way your little one will have the same amount of time between nap and bedtime that they’re used to. Try not to let them “catch up” on lost sleep by taking a long nap – they likely won’t be ready to sleep when bedtime rolls around and this will only make the adjustment process drag out longer. A few extra minutes for infants and toddlers, or a quick “cat nap” for older kids might be just enough to help them catch some extra Zzzs and happily make it to bedtime.
Stick to routines
Again, kids thrive on routines. Try to keep times for sleeping, waking, meals and other daily activities as consistent as possible. If they’re waking too early in the beginning, encourage them to do something quietly in bed until it’s time to get up. The warmer weather often makes it easier for kids to get exercise and fresh air, which is also helpful with sleep. Stick with the same bedtime routine too.
Every kid is different. Some will have no problems with the transition to Daylight Saving Time and others may have a rocky adjustment period. Try to be patient with the process and encourage a relaxing environment for everyone.
Teens may have a particularly difficult time adjusting to the spring time change. Be sure to remind them to avoid eating/drinking caffeine, using electronics (extra light exposure at night makes it harder to shift your internal clock) and participating in other stimulating activities in the evening hours.
Whether your child is a toddler, kid or teen, talk to their doctor if you have concerns about their sleep. They may benefit from a sleep study or other care from our sleep experts.
Read more about helping your child get a good night’s sleep every night.