Most of us don’t mind in the fall when the time changes and we gain an extra hour, but with the upcoming 2024 spring forward we miss out on a full hour of sleep… NOOOOOOO!
The start of daylight saving time each spring is loved from a daylight perspective but dreaded from a sleep perspective.
And for parents this fear is doubled. Even changing time by one hour can wreak havoc on sleep schedules. It often takes toddlers and school age-children longer to get used to the time change, especially if they have a fairly defined schedule already.
This “adjustment lag” results because our little one are typically more structured in their bedtime and wake time than adults. So changing the clocks, by even one hour, has a greater (and longer lasting) effect on children.
As your expert Sleeper Teachers®, we want to make this as smooth a transition as possible! From both the time change and sleep perspectives, so we happily present to you…
3 ways to help your family adjust to Daylight Saving Time
We will break down the various methods (most often determined by age) with the schedule that we recommend for each. We have included an example scenario for each group because that will make it easier to follow!
This is one of those things that shouldn’t be complicated, but it can be.
Don’t overthink this… We’ve already done the thinking (and math) for you.
Method 1: Do nothing for your spring forward
Expert note: We recommend this option for newborns + young babes with a “wake window” schedule.
If your little one’s bedtime is not predictable or is determined by their wake window (mostly for babies under about 9 months old), simply jump to the new time Sunday night as if you were traveling to a new time zone.
If your little one normally goes to bed 1.5 hours after his last nap of the day, then you will follow that as normal whether we are before or after the spring forward change on Sunday, March 10th, 2024.
At this age, adjustments happen quickly as parents are typically following time spent awake rather than a set bedtime! Consider yourself lucky, and be sure to reach out to us in the fall when you need help as we end the time change and your little one is on more of a set schedule.
Method 2: Small and gradual change starting Sunday
Expert note: We recommend this option for “set schedule” infants + toddlers, often 9 months to 3 years.
If you have a baby or toddler with a predictable bedtime, meaning they are always going to bed around the same time each night, you will adjust the difference by making bedtime 15 minutes EARLIER than their “new normal”.
For example, if bedtime is normally 7:00 pm, the clock will read 8:00 come the time change. Rather than trying to make it to bedtime at 8:00 pm for bedtime, you will move bedtime 15 minutes earlier each night (from the “new” time) until you reach the normal time.
So Sunday night you will put babe down at 7:45 pm (will feel like 6:45), Monday night at 7:30 pm, Tuesday night at 7:15 pm and Wednesday night will be back to 7:00 pm.
This 15 minute gradual approach will not impact the awake times of your little one as much as adjusting the full hour would! This gradual method helps most with the sensitive circadian clock of our littlest kiddos.
This same technique goes for naps. A 10:00 nap (clock will now read 11:00), will take place at 10:45 on Sunday, then 10:30 on Monday, then 10:15 on Tuesday, then back to 10:00 by Wednesday.
Method 3: Split the difference during spring forward
Expert note: We recommend this option for school-age kiddos, teens + adults.
For the older kiddos (pre-school and beyond), we will split the difference. If you have a child that does not nap and normally goes to bed at 8:00 pm (clock now reads 9:00 pm), you would put them to bed at 8:30 pm on Sunday night, the first night of the time change. This will feel like 7:30 to them, but it is better than adjusting the full hour and having it feel like 7:00 pm!
Do this 30 minute adjustment for three nights, then on Wednesday night bedtime will be back to 8:00 pm, or their normal (pre-time change) bedtime.
This same strategy rings true for adults! Adjust your bedtime by making it 30 minutes LATER Sunday, Monday and Tuesday and then go back to your normal bedtime by Wednesday night. Ta-Da!
Bonus Spring Forward Tips from your Sleeper Teachers
The recommended methods above are going to help your family make the one hour change as quickly (and low stress) as possible, but it’s not just all about timing here.
Don’t let the bright light bite
Another tip that is helpful this time of year is to darken the bedrooms in your house in the evening! As we get closer and closer to summer, kiddos may struggle to fall asleep while it is still light outside.
Darkening the room can be very helpful to avoid any extra bedtime protest. Even though there are extra hours of daylight, little ones still need the same amount of sleep after we switch to daylight saving time.
If you have “leaking light” around the windows in your sleep spaces (as seen below in 5-9), we highly recommend taking some time before the time change to blackout your sleep environments.
We often hear from parents that this time change is particularly tough because it is easy to lose track of what time it is in the evening. You get the kiddos home from school/activities/daycare and next thing you know, it is 8:00 pm! Oops.
Our advice here is to set an alarm on your phone to signal for you the start of dinner and winding down. It may sound silly, but if you can get your own evening on track, you are more likely to see success with your littles.
What to expect this spring forward
Even with the tips and suggestions mentioned here, it may take children and babies a bit more time to fall asleep, and this is totally normal. Since the time is different and their bodies think it is earlier than the clocks say, it is possible that they won’t be as tired at bedtime, initially.
This can be shocking to parents because we are just talking about a 15 or 30 minute difference if you follow the plan above. But, change is change! It usually takes about a week for the full adjustment.
Be patient and consistent, and get your mindset right… It will happen!
Need help? We’ve gotcha covered!
And if you need help with sleep in your family due to the upcoming spring forward (or anything else that has thrown you off track), you know that the Sleeper Teachers are always here for you!
Want to learn more about how we can help your family? Book a free sleep intro call here!
Cheers to later sunsets, spring weather and sleep!
XO, Brittney and the Sleeper Teachers