Fall is in full swing across the U.S., and with the change of seasons comes another hot-topic transition: Setting our clocks back at the end of daylight savings time. It’s time to “fall back.”
While most of us are looking forward to the gift of an extra hour of sleep on Nov. 6, moms everywhere are anticipating how changing the clocks will mess with our kids’ sleeping habits.
Our children’s biological clocks don’t change overnight like the ones in our household, but there are several things you can do now to prepare them for an easy transition.
1. Push your child’s entire sleep schedule back
Prepare them early by keeping your child awake 10-15 minutes later each night of the week leading up to the time change. So instead of putting your child to sleep at 7pm, move bedtime back to 7:15 pm, then 7:30pm. By doing this for both nap time and bedtime, you’re adjusting their sleep cycles so that 7 pm doesn’t feel like 8 pm when the time changes.
2. Soak up the sun early and often
Our body’s natural sleep cycle (circadian rhythm) is regulated by light and darkness, and is heavily influenced by our environment. That’s why we often wake up with the sun and become sleepy as it starts to get dark. Help your kiddos adjust to the time change with ease by exposing them to the sunlight when they wake up in the morning and throughout the day. It’s likely that your child will start to feel tired earlier as a natural result of it becoming dark earlier, so it’s important that they have exposure to sunlight for as long as possible during the day to help regulate their body’s sleep patterns.
3. Be prepared for early rising
Although you may be keeping your child up later leading up to the time change, it doesn’t always mean they’ll sleep later. Be prepared for kids to wake up early despite having a later bedtime. If they wake up early, encourage independent time in their crib or room as long as they’re content with it, then get them up when it’s time.
4. Arm them with some extra sleep
Of course, you can’t make your child sleep more than they are able to, but you can hold off on things that cause them to lose sleep leading up to the time change. Put things like sleepovers, or unnecessary travel on hold the week prior to daylight saving time coming to an end, and encourage a restful sleep schedule in preparation for the transition.
5. Be aware of snacking and mealtimes
Experts warn that eating too early or eating too late can have a major impact on our circadian rhythms. Keep a good pulse on how the time change also effects your daytime schedule, and be sure to adjust your family’s eating habits accordingly.