How to Manage Your Child’s Sleep Schedule During the Spring Time Change

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How to Manage Your Child’s Sleep Schedule During the Spring Time Change

March 8, 2021

Guest Blog by:  Dr. Nicky Cohen and Dr. Pamela Mitelman


Spring is around the corner and daylight saving time starts this weekend in many parts of the country. The clock moves forward one hour (and we lose one hour) on Sunday, March 14, 2021. With this change, daylight extends later into the day (into bedtime hours) and creeps in earlier in the morning. You may wonder if and how this time change will impact your child’s and consequently, your sleep.

 

Before bed on Saturday night, set your clocks ahead 1 hour.

  • If your child normally sleeps until 6:30am, the next morning they will likely sleep until 7:30am.

 

On the day of the time change, as they woke one hour later (according to the new clock), their entire schedule – meals, naps, and bedtime – will also shift one hour later. If the later morning wake time and later bedtime suits you, you can maintain this new schedule.

However, if you prefer to keep your child on their usual sleep schedule – and you do not want their bedtime moving one hour later – here are the recommended steps to help guide you:

  • On Saturday night (the night before the time change), put your child to bed at their regular bedtime, for example at 7:30pm.
  • Set your alarm for 7:00am (according to the new clock) and wake your child at this time. To them, it will feel like 6:00am and, although they may be tired, they will adjust.
  • If your child naps, put them down close to their normal nap time according to the new clock and wake them from their nap at their usual time. Do not allow your child to nap longer than usual.
  • If your child does not nap, ensure they are tired enough for bedtime. You can provide them with an opportunity to get extra physical activity in the day and put them to bed 30 minutes later, if needed. The next day, wake your child at their usual morning wake time (according to the new clock) and continue with their normal schedule from then on.

Spring & Summer Sleep Tips

As sunrise becomes earlier over the spring and summer months, children commonly start waking earlier. So, unless you want to be rising with the sun, be sure to block all outside light from coming into your child’s room. Ensure it is very dark in the morning until the time you want your child to wake up.

Similarly, as sunset is later (8:00 to 9:00pm), ensure that your child’s room is very dark to help them fall asleep. Blocking external light is necessary to maintain a bedtime that is not too late. Room darkening shades (such as black-out roller shades covered with black-out curtains) can help achieve a 10/10 level of darkness!

Reminders

Sunday, March 14, 2021, 2:00:00 am clocks are turned forward 1 hour to
Sunday, March 14, 2021, 3:00:00 am local standard time instead.

Sunrise and sunset will be about 1 hour later on March 14, 2021 than the day before. There will be more light in the evening. Also called Spring Forward, Summer Time, and Daylight Savings Time.

 

Pleasant dreams!

 

Dr. Nicky Cohen is a Registered Psychologist in private practice in Toronto. She received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from York University and developed an interest in parenting issues related to children’s sleep disturbances after having her first child. She is active in the community disseminating information on healthy sleep practices and increasing awareness of the importance of making sufficient sleep a family priority. Dr. Cohen’s book PARENTING YOUR CHILD TO SLEEP is now available in Kindle e-book format and paperback on Amazon.


Dr. Pamela Mitelman is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and founder of The Kids’ Sleep Clinic. In her Montreal based private practice, she treats children of all ages for sleep disturbances. Dr. Mitelman received her Psy.D. from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology in Chicago. She is passionate about educating families on the importance of healthy sleep practices.

For more information on establishing healthy sleep habits in infants, toddlers, and preschoolers see Dr. Nicky Cohen and Dr. Pamela Mitelman.

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