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Alanna McGinn: Good Night Sleep Site

October 06, 2020

 

The Fall Time Change and Your Family’s Sleep Schedule

On Sunday, November 1st, clocks go back one hour when Daylight Saving Time ends. In theory, this means we gain a bit of extra sleep. While this is a wonderful scenario for many, for families with young kids, it’s not quite so simple.

Parents often worry about how a time change will affect their family’s sleep and wonder how long it will take their child to adjust to the new schedule. Thankfully, when it comes to both the spring and fall time changes, our body clocks will naturally adjust on their own eventually. However, you may want to give your kids a bit of help to make the shift that much easier.

Tips for A Smoother Time Change Adjustment

If you have a child that isn’t a sensitive sleeper, you may be able to just wait it out and they’ll likely adjust to the change relatively quickly on their own. This is definitely the easiest approach, and one that I often recommend to families. It may take them a week or two to adjust, but they will. As families work towards adjusting to the change, keep in mind that young children may be cranky that first week while their bodies wait to sleep and eat.

If you’re looking for some extra support for toddlers and preschoolers, this is a great time to invest in a toddler clock. A toddler clock allows you to pick a wake-up time, and when that time arrives in the morning, the clock gives your child visual cues telling them it’s okay to get up.

If you do have sensitive children who struggle with a change in routine, you can implement a gradual shift in their schedule. Remember, when the clocks shift back, their 7pm bedtime will actually be an 8pm bedtime according to their body clock. By starting to shift things prior to the change, you’ll get a head start on resetting their internal rhythm, making it an easier transition come November 1st

Here are three tips to follow in order to modify your child’s routine starting a few days before the time change arrives:

  1. Shift your child’s bedtime and wake time to be 15 minutes later than usual. 
  2. Continue to shift bedtime by 15 minutes later each day until you reach the time that will align with the fall time change (1 hour = 4 nights of 15-minute increments). 
  3. If you think it will help, you can also shift their entire routine and make naps and mealtimes slightly later too.

Helping The Whole Family Adjust To The Fall Time Change

Make no mistake, time changes don’t just affect kids! Since the time change in the fall gives us an “extra hour” of sleep, many adults use it as an excuse to stay up later figuring they can just sleep in later the next morning. Regardless of age, it really is best to stick to your regular routine. Support your own body clock by going to bed at the same time each night (even though it will be darker earlier) and try to wake up at the same time in the morning. 

Overall, your family should be able to get back on track after a week or two. Remember not to stress too much about the change, if you remain consistent in your family’s sleep routines, you’ll get through it just fine.

Alanna McGinn is Founder and Certified Sleep Consultant ofGood Night Sleep Site, a global sleep consulting practice. She serves on the faculty of The Family Sleep Institute and is host of the ‘This Girl Loves Sleep’ Podcast and author of ‘This Baby Loves Sleep’. She and her husband, Mike, live in Toronto, Canada with their 3 children (1+twins!) You can follow her expert advice in national publications like Macleans, Prevention Magazine, Today’s Parent, and Huffington Post. Alanna has established the world-wide brand of Good Night Sleep Site as being a #1 sleep resource for families and her and her team of sleep consultants strive in helping families (baby to adults) and corporations overcome their sleep challenges and have well-rested smiles in the morning. You can find out more about Alanna McGinn and how to work with a Good Night Sleep Consultant atGood Night Sleep Site and follow Alanna and all her sleep tips on Instagram -@GNSleepSite.

 


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