Preparing Your Child for “Falling Back”

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We all know that a lot of time and effort goes into introducing and maintaining a healthy sleep routine. For some of us, the beginning or ending of Daylight Savings Time (DST) can add another challenge to keeping our kids’ sleep routines in check. This year, Sunday November 2nd, marks the end of DST, and here are some tips to help you prepare your child and make the time transition as smooth as possible.

Since we will be “falling back”, if your baby usually wakes at 6:00 or 7:00 am, they will wake up at 5:00 or 6:00 am instead because that is what their internal biological clock is used to doing. You can help you child adjust better to the time change by pushing bed and mealtimes back in 15 min increments on a daily basis a few days before.

• On October 30th, delay all meals* and sleep times by 15 min
• On October 31st, delay all meals* and sleep routines by 30 min
• On November 1st, delay all meals* and sleep routines by 45 min
• On November 2nd (end of DST), have all meals and sleep times happen according to your normal schedule.

* This isn’t always possible due to scheduled daily activities like school or other lessons.

Other things to keep in mind:

• Despite the earlier bedtimes, as you are preparing for the end of DST, your child may not fall asleep until his/her usual bedtime. However, you will be encouraging him/her to relax a little earlier so that when the time shift occurs his/her body is prepared for it.
• I caution people from just keeping their children up later hoping they’ll wear themselves out. This leads to over-tiredness, which is likely to make it even more difficult to fall asleep.
• For toddlers who notice that it is still light outside once the time change occurs, a few things can be done:
(a) Ensure that the room is as dark as possible during sleep periods by using room darkening shades or curtains.
(b) Use of a lamp on a timer, a Gro-clock, or similar device, can help explain to children what time they are expected to go to sleep and what time it is ok to get up for the day. Remember that if you are using one of these devices, to also adjust the timers on them as you are preparing for the time change!
• It usually takes about a week for all things to iron out after the time change occurs, but you can help things along by exposing your child to as much fresh air and natural sunlight during their waking hours to help “reset” their biological clock.  This way when they come inside to a slightly darker environment, their bodies will be “primed” for sleep.
• Finally, having a consistent routine on a daily basis is going to be the most important factor in helping your child adjust to the time change!

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