Spring is around the corner. With the clocks moving forward and the loss of an hour, 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 one hour.
If your child typically sleeps until 6:30 a.m., he will likely sleep until 7:30 a.m. (new time).
If your child typically goes to bed at 7:30 p.m., after the time change this would be 6:30 p.m. (based on internal clock).
On the day of the time change, his schedule—meals, naps, and bedtime—will then shift one hour later and bedtime would be moved to 8:30 p.m. 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 his usual sleep schedule—and you do not want his bedtime moving one hour later—here are some tips to help guide you:
On Saturday night (the night before the time change), put your child down at his regular bedtime, for example at 7:30 p.m.
Set your alarm for 7:00 a.m. (according to the new clock) and wake your child at this time. To him, it will feel like 6:00 a.m. and, although he may be tired, he will adjust.
If your child naps, put him down close to his normal nap time according to the new clock and wake him from his nap(s) at his usual time(s). Do not allow him to nap longer than usual.
If your child does not nap, to ensure he is tired enough for bedtime, get him extra physical activity in the day and put him to bed 30 minutes later if needed. The next day, wake him at his usual wake time (according to the new clock) and continue with his normal schedule from then on.
As sunrise becomes earlier and 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 her to wake up.
Similarly, as sunset is later (8:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.), ensure that your child’s room is very dark to help her fall asleep. Having end of day light blocked out 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!
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. More information about Dr. Cohen’s work can be found at www.drnickycohen.com
Dr. Pamela Mitelman is a Montreal based Licensed Clinical Psychologist working in private practice. She received her Psy.D. from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology in Chicago. Her interest in pediatric sleep disturbances was peeked while assessing children for learning difficulties and was further solidified after having children of her own. Dr. Mitelman is passionate about educating families on the importance of healthy sleep practices. More information about Dr. Mitelman can be found at www.drpamelamitelman.com