It’s Saturday night, and that’s when you feel it. A heavy, dark sensation settling over the room. You glance at your alarm clock, and its glow feels almost ominous in the moonlight. Your child is asleep in their bedroom – finally on a smooth sleep schedule – and then it dawns on you.
Daylight Savings. Spring Forward. Or, to translate: relinquishing that one extra hour of sleep you could have gotten if it weren’t for seasonal obligations. As an adult, adjusting your sleep cycle is difficult. Even if it’s only 60 minutes’ worth of acclimating. And with raising a child, peaceful slumber is even more fleeting, and feels like a laughably distant goal. Ha. In your dreams.
However, we as adults are dealing with self-crippling anxiety over sleep loss, let’s not forget about the kids who might be impacted by daylight savings as well. While toddlers and babies are deftly skilled in falling asleep in the most arbitrary places (highchairs, toilet seats, in the middle of a Christmas party), setting them back an hour could have cranky consequences. So, how exactly do you turn back the clock without disrupting your child’s circadian cycle?
Adapting to daylight is much like working around jet lag. Especially if it’s extending daylight hours. So, instead of jetting to Paris for a weekend getaway, you’re stuck with the more luxurious option of keeping your sleepiness localized. For one, your baby or toddler could feel affronted if they’re forced to go to bed at 7:30 while sunlight is still streaming through the windows. Resisting bedtime comes naturally to them, and having physical evidence of daylight on your child’s side does not sway the jury in your favor. To fight their intrinsic need to “stay up,” it can be helpful to meet them halfway. If their bedtime is around 7 or 8, start winding down around 6. Steer away from iPads and TV shows. Give them quiet playtime activities like puzzles, drawing, block construction, or reading storybooks. It works. And it translates with jetlag as well. Ask any seasoned traveler, and they’ll wax poetic about the many Mother Goose books they’ve read on airplanes.
And whilst grooming your child to be a professional globetrotter (jetlag will never be in their vocabulary!), you can make the spring transition even easier by working in increments. For a couple of days beforehand, begin working your child’s bedtime back by 10 to 15-minute intervals. Or, vice versa. Consider waking your child just 10-15 minutes earlier than normal (e.g. if their wakeup time is usually around 6, let them sleep in until 6:10 or 6:15, and gradually extend it up until Sunday). This allows you as a parent to find some middle ground, without sacrificing more snooze time for you.
Now, you can tackle your family’s sleeping schedule head on. So, go ahead and seize the daylight!