Fall Back – Tips For Coping With Daylight Savings

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Fall Back – Tips For Coping With Daylight Savings

November 16, 2011

Daylight savings tends to lose its appeal when you are a parent to young children.  It no longer means one glorious extra hour of sleep under the warmth of the covers.  No, as a parent of young children it can now mean having to drag yourself out of bed even earlier than you normally would.   In the fall, daylight savings means that if a child was going to bed at 7:00pm, once you turn the clocks back they are going to bed at 6:00pm which isn’t so bad for most parents.  But, a child will then generally get up an hour earlier and, for those of us who already have early risers, this is where the problem can appear.  For example, 6:00am now becomes 5:00am which can be unbearable for some and make for a very long day.

Here are a few tips to cope with the recent daylight savings on November 1st (and preventative strategies for future time changes).  There are generally two approaches I would suggest to handle this type of transition with children.

  1. Cold Turkey – The cold turkey approach means you essentially put your child to bed an hour later than their normal bed time (on the eve of daylight savings) and, if they do wake up earlier than usual in the morning, continue with your daily routine following the clock. This may mean that you need to be firm and have your child stay in bed for longer than normal in the morning which isn’t always easy. So, this approach often works well with older children. You may be happily surprised to see that on morning one your child actually sleeps to a reasonable hour. You might think that you are good to go but you may then go on to see a setback on day two. Steady improvement will start to be seen in the days following if you are committed to adjusting your routine to the new time.
  2. The Gradual approach can be used before or after daylight saving occurs depending on what works best for your family.  Over a period of four days, prolong your child’s bedtime by 15 minutes each night.  Each morning you will need to also extend your child’s wake up (or time to get up and start the day) by 15 minutes as well as altering your usual daily routine by 15 minutes each day.  By the fourth day, you will be at your target bedtime.  It may still take another few days to allow your children’s system to completely adjust to this new time; however, you will have eliminated the overtiredness that you may have otherwise seen without following such a plan.  The gradual approach is somewhat gentler and tends to work well with babies and toddlers.

With both methods, patience is the key and it will help to keep in mind that change to a child’s sleep pattern and general routine usually takes 3 to 4 days to implement and before steady improvement is seen.

Editorial provided by Robin Scambler.  Robin is an elementary school teacher and emerging sleep consultant – stay tuned!  She is also the very proud mum of two beautiful girls, ages 2 ½ and 9 months.  Contact Robin directly to find out more about the sleep consultation and support services she can provide for you.

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