Helping Kids Adjust to Daylight Saving Time

Posted by in No-Cry Sleep

Daylight Saving Time is coming up this weekend and you are not the only one to struggle with the sleep change that accompanies it. About 70% of people find that their sleep schedule is off for a while after the adjustment. This will throw another challenge into the mix if you have children who already have sleep issues.

 The re-setting of our clocks disrupts our physical rhythm, and a sleep deficit of even one hour can have a dramatic affect on sleep and wakefulness.  Here are some tips to help your little ones adjust to the new time.

Gianni - 3 years old

Gianni – 3 years old

Lessening the impact of the Daylight Saving Time changes

It can help to know that it’s normal to take a week or longer to adjust to the time change. Even if you use the suggestions that follow, have some patience with yourself and your children until your biological rhythms catch up with the clock on the wall. Here are a few things that can help you make a quicker adjustment:

  • Take advantage of the power of light and darkness to re-set your body clocks. Have the house dimly lit in the hour before bedtime. And turn on some bright lights for the first hour after waking up in the morning.
  • If you must put your child to bed an hour earlier, before he’s tired, extend your pre-bed reading time.  You can also listen to a child’s audio book in the dark. This can help a child calm down and feel drowsy.
  • Pay attention to nap times, and make sure that your child doesn’t have too late of a nap that interferes with bedtime.
  • Make sure your child gets plenty of afternoon exercise, especially outside when possible. Daylight during waking hours can help set your internal clock quicker. If it’s dark outside use bright inside lights instead.


Split the time adjustment into pieces

Just because the clocks officially change on Sunday at 2:00 AM does not mean that you must change yours at that time. If you and your child are having bedtime problems already, and the change in time makes things worse, see if you can split the hour difference into 15 minute increments during the week before the actual time change.

If you have lots of appointments, or older children to pick up from school and sports activities you can’t change your clock, obviously. But, since most toddlers and preschoolers can’t tell time you can simply write down the bedtimes for the week in advance and just begin your bedtime routine at the adjusted time each night.


Do you have to keep the same bedtime year-round?

Before you automatically make the bedtime hour change, take your family’s needs into account. If the adjusted time suits your schedule, then modify bedtime and awakening time to reflect the one hour change. Do what works best for you and your family!


A safety reminder
Many fire departments encourage people to change the batteries in their smoke detectors when they change their clocks. The majority of home fires occur at night when people are sleeping. Properly working smoke detectors more than double a persons chances of surviving a home fire, so keep your child and your entire family safe by changing your smoke detectors’ batteries along with your clocks.


For more sleep tips read The No-Cry Sleep Solution book series.