Happy Fall, ya’ll! We officially have one foot into November which means it is that time of year again where we catch these last glimpses of daylight in the evening before Winter knocks on the door to announce it is time to start eating dinner after dark. That’s right you guys, time to get out those red sharpies and circle November 3rd on the calendar because daylight savings time is upon us.
In today’s episode, I get real by real-quick letting you know the tips and tricks on how to prevent your kiddos’ sleep schedule from getting all wonky when we lose an hour. Alright, let’s dive in on how to navigate these sleep changes.
Since exposure to light regulates your circadian rhythm by telling your body when it’s time to be awake and when it’s time to be asleep, as well as helping our bodies with melatonin production, we want to make sure that kiddos are exposed to light when we want them to be awake and not exposed to light when we don’t want them to be awake. You might be like, “Hey Alyssa, this is crazy. I can’t keep my kids in their rooms for an hour in the dark!” And you’re totally right, that would be not only wild but also very hard to do. But we can navigate this so that your kiddos are in the dark longer in the morning as we get closer to the desired wake time.
For the fall daylight savings time, when your tiny human gets up at what feels like 6 o’clock in their bodies, that clock in your room is going to say 5 am. And nobody wants to get up at 5 am! So, the ultimate goal here is that the Saturday night before daylight savings we have kiddos going to bed an hour later than usual. If your kids usually go to sleep at 7 pm and sleep until 6 am, you want them to go to bed at 8 pm so when they wake up at what their body thinks is 7 am but on the clock will be your usual 6 am. And then you’re set up for the rest of the day.
However, you cannot simply put your kiddo to bed an hour later than usual without adjusting naps because this is going to mess with their sleep pressure. What we want to avoid is an overtired tiny human, because we’ve all been there and it is not what dreams are made of.
Don’t worry, you have a couple of options here. Option one is to get ahead of daylight savings by, a few days before, moving naptime/bedtime/awake-time a little bit later each day. Option two is to play with naps on the day of. For example, if your kiddo takes two naps go ahead and adjust both by half an hour. Then they might wake up half an hour earlier on Sunday, but that adjusting half an hour is not as bad as the alternative.
This might look like rocking and snuggling or a low warm-light in your kiddo's sleep space. This might also look like staying in the dark room to read books for a slow wakeup, or doing milk in their room in the dark. Regardless of what it looks like for you, trying to keep kiddos in the dark when you want them to be asleep is the first step to tackling daylight savings.
Another key thing with light control is keeping your kiddos exposed to light when they should be awake, regardless of how dark it gets outside earlier in the day. If your kiddos are exposed to low light in the house their melatonin will be kickstarted earlier than you want, and you’ve got yourself a case of sleep pressure being thrown off.
If that’s the case, you’ll have to adjust naptime. If your kiddos wake at 5 am and usually they take a nap from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm I would shoot for putting them down for a nap at 11. They are probably going to be tired at 10:30, but I would push them to not nap until 11. Additionally, it’s safe to say you may have to adjust bedtime by half an hour on that first night too.
Starting on Saturday we will have a post up on our Facebook group, Seed and Sew: Voices of your Village, where you can drop in your kid’s timing and we can all troubleshoot it together to help you with that Saturday night bedtime. We’ll keep the post up through Sunday and our team will pop in as often as possible to help you get your kiddos’ sleep pressure back on track.