How to keep daylight savings from busting your baby's sleep sitch — and actually get that extra hour this Sunday!

Welcome to Daylight Savings week! The time of year when sleep routines get way out of whack and sends parents spiraling after their carefully crafted routines get busted in one fell-daylight savings-swoop!

The problem with daylight savings is that our alarm is going off 1-hour earlier or later, but our body's circadian rhythm hasn't gotten the memo yet.

It needs time to adjust its sleeping and hunger cycles to the new hour.

The circadian rhythm is responsible for releasing the hunger, drowsy, and alert hormones during the day that keep us eating and sleeping on a 24-hour cycle. Enter daylight savings, which is kind of like experiencing jet-lag from traveling across time zones. You're expected to eat and sleep out of sync from when your body and brain are telling you to be hungry or tired.

Even us adults can feel really "off" during daylight savings, and the companies we work for credit daylight savings for "killing productivity." For a baby and toddler, this  1-hour difference can feel down-right drastic. When a child's body suddenly shifts out of sync to the clock, it's easy for that moment to snowball into other sleep problems down the road. One mom I worked with could trace her child's sleep difficulties back to the last daylight savings jump from months ago!

But this doesn't have to be the case. With a little know-how and prep time, you might actually get a little extra shut-eye yourself this Sunday. So if you're ready to show daylight savings who's boss, read on, maverick.

A blond-haired toddler girl in a pink dress adjusting the time on a blue clock.

Option 1: Gradually adjust mealtimes and sleeps later

This approach is best for younger babies who will have a harder time coping with the 1-hour difference.

Starting this Thursday, gradually adjust your child's sleeping and eating times by 15 minutes each day and put to bed 15 minutes later each night. You may notice they naturally start sleeping 15 mins later each morning in response — you can let that happen as they're gradually adjusting to the new, later clock time.

By Sunday, their biological sleeping rhythm will already be adjusted to the new time on the clock-face!

This is why I find the circadian rhythm so fascinating: it's adjustable, it's shapeable. You probably have more influence over shaping your child's biological rhythms than you even realize. That brings me to option 2.

Option 2: "Do" Nothing

Or rather, let 'environmental cues' do the heavy-lifting in adjusting your child's circadian rhythm to the new hour. The circadian rhythm relies on external cues like food, light and social interaction to 'program' the rhythm to the appropriate eating and sleeping times. Basically, if you eat and sleep at roughly the same time every day, your circadian rhythm 'learns' that to be hungry and sleepy at those same times to keep the 24-hour cycle going.

With this more laid back approach, know that your child will probably wake up 1-hour "early" on Sunday based on what the clock says, just because that's their body's natural "business as usual" wakeup time. But as they go through their days, all you have to do is offer meals and sleeps at the new adjusted times, and their bodies will gradually adjust to sleeping and waking up at a later time too.

This approach is probably better suited for toddlers who can handle longer periods of wakefulness and time between meals. If on Sunday you notice your toddler struggling with a later bedtime or mealtime, you'll need to gradually adjust meals and sleeps back in smaller increments like above to help them cope with the change.

At the end of the day, every child is different, every child sleeps differently. And some children are simply more sensitive to time-changes than others. You know your child better than anyone! If you suspect they would do best with a gradual adjustments to ease into the change, then rock on. If they're pretty go with the flow and you're keen to just ride out daylight savings, that's pretty rad too. Either way, I'm wishing you a restful day to enjoy that extra hour!

P.S. While I hope this post will help prevent daylight savings sleep struggles, if sleep already feels like it's gone off the rails you can always schedule a discovery call with me here. I'd love to help bring more sleep into your life.

Sweet Dreams,

Rebekah

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