Are you ready to fall back? On the first Sunday of November, it will be time to set your clocks back an hour. While you might be excited at the prospect of an extra hour of sleep, chances are that the change is going to disrupt your children’s sleep schedules. Although gaining an hour of sleep is less of a disruption than losing an hour, any change is likely to interfere with your child’s internal clock. They get used to a particular schedule and routine, and any change can be difficult. Here are a few small tips to help you help your child adjust to the time difference.
- Expect the disruption. On average, it takes a child about a week for your child’s body clock to reset itself and adjust to the new time frame. While it’s possible that your child will be the one that sails right through it, it’s best if you expect to deal with the effects of a time disruption and plan accordingly.
- Maintain consistency. You may be tempted to keep them up later so they’ll sleep the extra hour in the morning, but resist the urge. Even if it seems counter-intuitive, your best bet is to keep your bedtime routine as consistent and stable as possible. Send them to bed at the same time as always if they can stay up, and just let it work itself out.
- Adjust naptimes. Here’s a sleep schedule that you can adjust. If you have small children who still take afternoon naps, try pushing off nap time by fifteen minutes for several days leading up to the time change. This will help them adjust to staying up what feel like a little bit later. By the time the time change is done, they’ll feel more like going to sleep on time, even if on time feels a little off.
- Get some exercise. This, of course, is a good thing for children any time, and all the time. But it’s particularly helpful around the time of a time change. Spend as much time as you can manage during the day outside in the sunshine. While you’re out there, encourage lots of physical activity and play. This will help their bodies recognize that it’s day time, time for being outside and being busy and active. By contrast, night time will naturally feel like time to wind down, relax an rest. Plus, they’ll be all tired out from all the activity earlier in the day. This will help them not to be restless, and to sleep well, hopefully until a decent hour in the morning.
Remember that your kids don’t need to be able to tell time to realize that something is up when we adjust the clocks. The internal clock is very real, and it will tell them if something is off. Explain why we adjust the clocks and answer any questions they have. Then do what you can to make the transition as smooth as possible.