Daylight Savings Time ends this weekend. Generally I don’t give the time change much thought. An extra hour of sleep? Score! Have to get up one hour earlier? No big deal. There’s no adjusting or confusion or stress, you know, except if I forget to set my watch and go to a meeting at the wrong time or something.
Last year when the “fall back an hour” time change happened, Owen was a little over 3 months old and we had just begun to establish a night time routine and solid bedtime. He was still waking up at night to eat, so an hour here or there really didn’t rock the boat at all. He didn’t even notice. But now that he is a toddler, things might be a bit different this time.
Owen has always been a great sleeper, but an early riser. This generally works fine for me, since I am a morning person too, but for a few months there the early rising was getting too early, even for me. Since Owen has adjusted to the 1 nap-a-day routine, we have squeezed out an extra 45 minutes of sleep or so in the morning which brings our normal wakeup time to around 6:15am/6:30am instead of 5:30am. Muuuuch better for me… and for him, honestly. He is much more chipper and giggly and bouncing off the walls with energy when he gets that last little bit of sleep in the morning compared to mornings when he gets up earlier.
This new schedule is all fine and dandy, except when you figure that we are about to shift the clocks back 1 hour and his 6:15 wakeup will now be 5:15am. And that’s a good day.
So we’ve taken this sage advice from the sleep specialists at one of my favorite parenting resources, Isis Parenting. We have already started preparing for the weekend’s time change. Starting last weekend we have been moving Owen’s bedtime later and later by a few minutes each night. Since he seems to wake up at the same time in the morning no matter when he went to bed (generally), this gradual approach will (hopefully!) help ease him into the new time, rather than just robbing
him both of us of an hour of sleep for a few days while he adjusts.
When he wakes up in the morning now, we sit in the darkened room and play quietly or sing, trying to let his body know that it’s still time to be sleeping. The goal is to keep him in the darkened room until his “new wakeup time”. We’re shooting for 6am as the new wakeup time, so I’ve been doing my best to keep him dark and quiet until 7am. We haven’t quite made it yet, but we’re working on it. Similarly, we’re keeping the lights on and bright at night until just about “new” bedtime so we can stretch him a bit later each night.
Although it’s only a difference of 15-20 minutes in either direction, it really does seem to have an effect on our daily schedule. So I think this gradual approach is a good one for us right now. That said, I still could be waking up at 4am on Sunday morning — who knows!
Has the time change affected your kid(s) in the past? Do you do anything to counteract the change? Any tips for helping a toddler sleep later in the morning?