It’s that wonderful time of the year when we get an extra hour of sleep. On November 5, 2023, at 2 am, we will set our clocks back to make the nights longer and the days shorter.
Many of us struggle with time changes, whether it’s in the fall or spring. And they can be especially tough for kids, who are more sensitive to these time shifts than us adults.
Helping children adapt to the new time is crucial. Here are a few strategies to assist them in this process:
1. Gradual Time Adjustment
Thankfully, we can prepare for this time adjustment. One of the most effective ways to acclimate your child to the time change is to gradually push their naps and bedtime 10 – 15 minutes later each day. This approach allows for a 3-day transition to the “new” time which gives your child’s body time to adjust to the shift beforehand. This method is especially helpful for those children who seem to be thrown off for weeks after each time change.
Here’s an example:
If your baby normally naps at 9:00 AM and 1:00 PM and goes to bed at 6:30 PM, start making small changes on Wednesday morning. Instead of napping at 9:00 AM and 1:00 PM, adjust it to 9:15 AM and 1:15 PM. Keep shifting by 10 – 15 minutes each day.
Be mindful during these shifts. While these time frames are meant to help support your child pry to the shift in time, some children can be thrown into an overtired state. Although I recommend the 10 – 15 minute shifts, your child might only be able to handle a 5-minute shift and that’s OK too.
2. Immediate Change
While there are children who need time for a gradual shift leading up to the time change, the majority of children do well with addressing any disruptions to their sleep after the time change goes into effect. For these children, you simply stick to your normal routine/schedule. You may have to make a few accommodations here and there for a few days but they should be able to settle into the new with minimal disruption to their sleep.
How will you help your child adjust to the “fall back” time change this autumn?