By: Rebekah Thomson, Pediatric Sleep Coach
After taking some time off to support my mother as she battles breast cancer, I’m very happy to be back on Cape Cod Mommies and very grateful to Michelle Donaghy and Brooke Nalle, my fellow Gentle Sleep Coaches who generously contributed to Cape Cod Mommies in my absence.
Today’s post will come as good news to many of us who are enduring one of the most intense winters in recent history and/or coping with our children’s early rising. We will be setting our clocks forward one hour on Sunday, March 9th, 2014 at 2:00 am. The start of daylight saving’s time assures us that spring is indeed on the way, even if it is still 21 degrees outside.
What does this mean for our children’s sleep? Generally speaking, it’s a good thing. Children who were waking up at 5:30am will now be waking at 6:30am, a far more civilized hour. However, those with late sleepers, may need to rouse their child so they don’t sleep the morning away.
What should we do in anticipation of the time changes? We’ve got two options. One is to do absolutely nothing. Just go with it. On Saturday night, put your child to bed at the usual time and allow her to wake at her usual time (though of course, the clock will read an hour later – i.e. 8am instead of the usual 7am). For the next few days, naps and bedtime may all feel a bit too early. For example, if your child’s bedtime is 7pm, you will be putting her to bed at the “new” 7pm, which is really 6pm. However, with a consistent bedtime routine and other good sleep habits, she will adjust within the week.
Alternatively, you can gradually adjust your child’s internal clock to the time change. Put her to bed 15 minutes earlier each night over the next few nights. For example, if her bedtime is 7pm, put her to bed at 6:45pm tonight, 6:30pm the following night, and so on. Naps and meal times will need to be adjusted in the 15-minute increments as well.
Regardless of what approach you opt for, exposing your child to morning sunlight (if you can find some!), a predictable and soothing bedtime routine, room darkening shades and/or white noise, and following your child’s sleepy cues will make the transition smoother all around.
Also remember that if your child was waking early due to another reason (nap deprivation, too long of a wakeful window between nap and bedtime, etc.), it’s likely that the early rising will return in a few weeks. If so, take a look at this piece I wrote for Cape Cod Mommies a while back. Hopefully it will help you identify and tackle the root cause.
Sweet dreams and happy (almost) spring,
Contact Rebekah Thomson for your Sleep Needs! Rebekah Thomson Counting Sheep Pediatric Sleep Coaching firstname.lastname@example.org (917) 455-3054
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