Health & Development
5 Sleep Tips for Parents During Daylight Savings Time
We spring forward on Sunday, March 9 at 2 a.m. Doesn't it feel like we just fell back? Many of us struggled with early wake ups and cranky babes who had trouble making it to a 6 p.m. bedtime. But, fear not! The spring time change is easier on parents and babies.
While we technically lose one hour of sleep, our clocks push forward and make for an easier time change. Even though we lose an hour, our clocks will read 7 a.m. instead of 6 a.m. when we wake up on Sunday morning, and as any parent knows, making it to 7 is sometimes a really big deal.
Lori Strong, certified child sleep consultant by the Family Sleep Institute and founder of Strong Little Sleepers in Austin, Texas, shares five sleep tips to help your family deal with this time change.
1. Stick to your schedule. How you handle this time change depends on your family and child, but most do best by just keeping all routines and naps and bedtimes the same. Yes, your child will be getting one hour less of sleep, but this will not affect them greatly because it is temporary. As with traveling to a time zone one hour ahead, our bodies adjust within three days or so. If you want to prepare ahead of time, you can put your child to bed 15 minutes earlier for a few days before Sunday and then your child will be adjusted to the new times on Sunday. If you have a child who wakes early and goes to bed early, it can be tempting to start putting them to bed later in the hopes that they will wake later. You can try this, but it often does not work because light, hunger and routines all affect our daily alertness and drowsiness, and it can be hard to change all of those considering factors to fit the new time change.
2. Use blackout shades. The sun will be rising earlier and setting later, which means it may be lighter in your child's bedroom. This could make it difficult to fall asleep at night when the sun is setting and encourage earlier waking in the morning. Blackout shades are a great way to darken your child's room (and even your own) and to help your child sleep until a more desirable wake-up time. They can be expensive, so if you need some quick fixes, black trash bags and painters tape are a great alternative. You can also purchase temporary paper blackout shades from your local hardware store or attach blackout backing to your existing curtains.
3. Use white noise. The birds may start chirping much earlier as we move into spring. A white noise machine is a great tool for blocking out environmental noises as well as other sounds in your home. White noise is non-habit forming and allows the brain to sleep deeply because the sound is constant. Choose white noise over music because the dynamic changes in music do not allow the brain to achieve deep, restorative sleep.
4. Earlier to bed means later to rise. We all remember the days when we used to sleep in before we had kids. Is your child an early riser? You might need to continue to use an earlier bedtime to keep your child from becoming overtired, which often results in waking earlier in the morning. For older children, consider using a clock to signal when it's okay to get out of bed even if they wake early.
5. Parents need to sleep, too! It's just as important for parents to pay attention to their sleep environment and routines. Make sure your bedrooms are clear of clutter and are only used for sleep. Give yourself enough time to carry out your own relaxing bedtime routine each night. Turn off all screens at least an hour before bedtime so that you can allow your brain to release the hormones that naturally cause drowsiness.
Enjoy these days of "sleeping in". If you need assistance for sleep issues that may not be fixed as you spring forward, working with a certified sleep consultant may be a solution.
Lori Strong is a Family Sleep Institute Certified Child Sleep Consultant and Certified Happiest Baby Educator. She works with families all over the country to help them improve their child's sleep. In 2013, Lori was named Best Sleep Expert in the Austin Birth Awards. Lori provides email, phone and in-home consultations to her clients, and can be reached at www.stronglittlesleepers.com. She lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and two well-rested kiddos.