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Adjusting Kids’ Sleep for End of Daylight Savings

31 March, 2021

As an adult, we celebrate the end of daylight savings with an extra hour of sleep. As a parent, we dread the impending havoc.

It’s like kids do the maths wrong and wake up early. If they normal wake at 7am, suddenly they wake at five. Confused and exhausted.

Overtired babies and kids often struggle to get to sleep, wake up overnight and wake up early in the morning.

So how do you overcome daylight savings ending?

Sleep Tips for the End of Daylight Savings

There’s few ways to do this. Ideally, you can be proactive and adjust slowly ahead of time.

Adjust Schedule in Days Leading Up to Change

In the four days leading up to daylight savings ending, bring your child’s schedule backwards by 15 minutes a day. Move everything backwards starting with their wake up, right up to their bedtime being pushed back.

Push Back Wake Time

If your child normally wakes at 7:00, keep them in their sleep environment until 7:15 on the first day. Then 7:30 the second day.

This means that by the time the clocks go back an hour, your child will be used to waking up at the same time as they normally would. They’ll be waking up at 8am which is now 7am with the clocks going back an hour.

How do I keep the same sleep environment?

If you normally use white noise, keep it on until ‘wake up’ time. If your child normally sleeps in a sleep suit, keep it on until wake up time. As much as possible, keep it the same as sleep time.

My child wakes up and immediately cries. How can I extend the wake up time?

You can go in and comfort your child. Certainly show them all the love and care that they need.

You will still keep the sleep environment the same so cuddle them in their room. Tell them it’s not quite morning time yet.

Sleeping baby Harrison in cot
Sleeping Baby Harrison in Cot

Make wake up time obvious

When it’s wake up time, make sure there’s an obvious difference. You might open the blinds or if you have block out blinds, turn on the light. Turn off any white noise or lullabies. Take them out of the sleep suit.

This is the time to be engaging and fun. You can create a morning ritual. You might have a Good Morning song that you sing or jump in the shower together.

Change your entire day’s schedule

Not only should you change the wake time, but also the meal times, boob times, nap times, tummy time - change it all!

Your entire day should go forward by 15 minutes each day.

Keep the lights on at night

As you push back bedtime, make sure to keep some light in the house. This will help your child stay alert and awake that extra 15 minutes. While 15 minutes isn’t much for some kids, it can be disastrous for others. We’ll touch on this shortly.

Ideally at night we want softer lights- like salt lamps. These create light without activating our brain too much to think it’s day time.

Think about what naturally happens in the evening. As the sun goes down, the light becomes more soft and dull.

My child struggles with being overtired. What do I do?

If your child’s struggles being overtired, then you can take a slower approach:

  • Move 10 minutes forwards every day for 6 days
  • Move 15 minutes forwards every second day. This will require you starting 8 days prior to the end of daylight savings

Your child will adapt pretty quickly so it won’t take too long to transition.

Help! I forgot about the end of Daylight Savings and now my child’s sleep is a mess

Life is busy with little ones. It’s normal that you can forgot entirely about daylight savings ending until you are suffering the consequences.

If you missed being proactive by gradually changing the sleep ahead of time, you can do the same thing afterwards.

The same principles apply. Push your child’s schedule forwards 15 minutes each day until they are in a normal rhythm.

Appointments available in Moonee Ponds or online.

About the Author

Dr Cassie Atkinson-Quinton - Chiropractor, Sleep Coach, Postpartum Doula (in-training), Perinatal Yoga & Pilates Instructor

There's a lot of change that happens for both parents and babies in the first few months after birth. There's tremendous growth and development for the bubba. Parents need to learn new (or remember and relearn with subsequent kids) how to look after a child. Mother's bodies are healing from pregnancy & birth and the new challenges of breastfeeding.

This is a passion area for Cassie. She helps support her clients through this transition with Chiropractic, Yoga & Pilates, Sleep Coaching and Doula support services.

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