Staying Sane While Springing Forward

Reminder!!!! Sunday Daylight Savings is March 13th, 2022

Spring is in the air… and that means it is time again to turn our clocks!

There are both pros and cons to the clock springing forward. However, in my experience, this is the time change that parents don’t complain about….at least not as much as that other time change!  Yes, we lose an hour of precious sleep, but the rewards are totally worth it.  

The evenings will seem longer as we gain daylight. This signals to us that summertime is coming.  

Those that suffer from SAD and depression usually feel an extra boost with the extra bit of daylight. 

Early risers may finally shift to waking at a decent time. 

However, springing forward also means that we all lose an hour of valuable sleep. For some people, including children, it can take 1-2 weeks to fully adjust to this change. 

Although we will all feel this shift, some of us will acclimate easier than others. Your children might be a little extra cranky as they adjust, remember that the changes are temporary. Everyone will eventually get in sync.

Here are a few things you can do to make the transition as easy as possible.

Extra care should be taken to create a dark and calm sleep space. Take advantage of products that will help your child fall asleep and, if needed, go back to sleep such as black-out curtains and/or white noise machines.  

To ease the transition, do not make any drastic changes to your child’s sleep or nap routine for 2 weeks. In other words… if you do a bath then song then bed, keep doing those things in that order even if you decide to change the actual timing of these events. (see below for time change examples)

No matter your child’s routine, make sure that their naps are given top priority. 

There are a few ways you can prepare your family for the time change.

Option 1: Go with the flow: 

On Sunday, March 13, shift your routine to the new time. Keep activity on the lower end. Make sure to expose your child to daylight during the day and at dusk. This can help shift their circadian rhythm to the new time. 

Option 2: Sleepytime Change Strategy: 

This method starts four days prior to the day of the time change and makes a 15-minute incremental change each day in preparation. 

On Thursday, Friday and Saturday, shift your routine to 15 minutes earlier so that by Sunday the whole routine has fully shifted by an hour.

Example: Usual schedule

  • Wake  7:30
  • Snack 10:30
  • Lunch 1:30
  • Snack 3:30
  • Dinner 5:30
  • Bed 7:30 

Updated schedule:

  •                                     Thurs   Fri     Sat      Sun 
  • Wake                           7:15   7:00     6:45   – 7:30 
  • Snack                         10:15  10:00   9:45  – 10:30
  • Lunch                          1:15    1:00   12:45  – 1:30
  • Snack                          3:15   3:00    2:45   – 3:30 
  • Dinner                          5:15   5:00    4:45  –  5:30
  • Bed                              7:15   7:00   6:45   – 7:30 

Option 3: Go halfsies

I think that this method is most acceptable to parents. Waking your child is hard, and doing  it on  the weekend feels even more difficult, but if your child attends daycare or school it may be helpful for you to do this method in preparation for the school week ahead.  

If your child usually wakes up at 7:30 am for school, then on Saturday wake them at 7:00 am and put them to bed ½ an hour earlier. Then on Sunday, when it is the new 7:30 am your child’s body clock won’t have as much of a struggle waking up. It will feel ½ an hour earlier to their body clock as opposed to 1 full hour.  

Whatever option you use, remember you cut yourself and your child a bit of slack in the next week or so as everyone adjusts. Hopefully, by St Patrick’s Day, everyone will feel back to normal. May the luck o’ the Irish help you adjust quickly!

Published by Joan Sleepytime

I am a certified Gentle Sleep Coach.

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