The End of Daylight Savings
Updated: Oct 15, 2020
Our summer has come to a close and this means the end of Daylight Savings Time and an extra hour of sleep for us in the morning - for a day anyway! We may have a blissful vision of ourselves as parents waking on Nov 1 only to find we can shut our eyes for another hour before we need to get the day started - our little ones however will likely have other plans which usually don't include relaxing in bed for another whole hour! So how we do deal?
Setting our biological clocks
Our little ones have internal daily rhythms or biological clocks that tell their bodies when to wake and sleep throughout a 24 hour period. This biological clock is influenced by three things: light, food, and social interaction. Exposing your child to these three elements during your goal wake-up time will help set their body clocks to that wake up time. Oppositely, limiting these things during periods of sleep, at bedtime, and if they wake too early in the morning, will reinforce to their biological clocks that it's time for sleep (not counting overnight feedings).
Since we will be gaining sunlight in the morning, the first port of call is to ensure your child's room or sleep environment remains dark enough with the shift in time. If you think of darkness on a scale of 1-10 (with 1 being daylight and 10 being pitch black) a good goal is to have your child's sleep environment be at least an 8/10. Tip: if you can read a book in their room it's not dark enough.
How to adjust your child's schedule before the clocks roll back
If your family has a more flexible schedule you may have the ability to be proactive and to begin shifting children's schedules the week before Daylight Savings ends. The plan below assumes a 7am-7pm schedule but you can adjust accordingly to any schedule you are on. Our plan will push back their day in 15 minute increments every couple of days.
Note: the first day your child will likely not sleep in until 7:15am and you may have some overtiredness on your hands as their naps and bedtime are pushed later in the day - not to worry! Give lots of snuggles, distract with favorite toys and activities and be patient with them as they begin to adjust to a new schedule
Monday: Goal wake-up of 7:15 am -> naps and feeds 15 mins later than usual -> bedtime 7:15pm
Tuesday: Same as Monday
Wednesday: Goal wake-up of 7:30 am -> naps and feeds 30 mins later than usual -> bedtime at 7:30pm
Thursday: Same as Wednesday
Friday: Goal wake-up of 7:45 am -> naps and feeds 45 mins later than usual -> bedtime at 7:45 pm
Saturday: Same as Friday
Sunday: the clocks will have changed so goal wake-up will be 8am (old time) and 7am on your clock currently so you'd be back at your original 7am-7pm schedule
For those little ones who are more sensitive to routine changes and may need more time to adjust you can begin even earlier than a week out and make smaller changes -> i.e. move their schedule in 10 minute increments instead of 15 and only make changes every 3-4 days.
If your family's schedule won't allow you to proactively begin shifting your little one's schedules before daylight savings ends not to worry! You will just work the opposite way from the above suggestion. The schedule below also assumes a 7am-7pm schedule but adjust to suit your own. If your child is in daycare then you will just focus on gradually pushing bedtime and wake-up times later in the day.
Day 1: The clocks will have rolled back here so your 7am wakeup is now a 6am wake-up. Try and wait until 615 to get your little one out of bed.
Goal wake-up: 615 am -> naps and feeds 15 minutes later than usual -> bedtime at 615pm.
Day 2: same as day 1
Day 3: Goal wake-up: 6:30 am -> naps and feeds 30 minutes later than usual -> bedtime 630pm.
Day 4: same as day 3
Day 5: Goal wake-up: 6:45 am -> naps and feeds 45 minutes later than usual -> bedtime 6:45pm.
Day 6: same as day 5
Day 7: Goal wake-up: 7am -> naps and feeds 1 hr later than usual -> bedtime 7pm
Feel free to go even slower with adjustments every 3-4 days. It may take a couple of weeks for your little one to adjust to the time change but if you're having any long-lasting troubles don't hesitate to reach out.
RN, BSc, Certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant