Let’s Talk: Daylight Savings Time and Your Child’s Sleep Schedule

The following post is by editor Kara Fleck.

Daylight Savings Time will soon be upon us.  This Saturday evening, before we go to bed, we’ll be changing our clocks as we “fall back” an hour.

However, what seems simple – just an hour’s difference – can really wreck havoc on the sleep schedules of adults and kids alike.

Spring Forward, Fall Back … to Sleep?

Our kids generally do fairly well with the time change, and it is usually the “Spring Forward” that gets us as it becomes difficult to convince little ones to sleep while the “sun is still awake, mama.”  Usually after a night or two, things get back to normal as far as our children and bedtime goes.

But I know that there are families out there whose little ones have quite a time adjusting whether it is the Spring or the Autumn time change.  Daylight Savings Time can be a major disruption for some kids.

Let’s Talk

I would love to hear from you today:  how do your little ones handle the time change? 

Do you have any tips to share with other Simple Kids readers to make the transition easier, especially on a child’s sleep schedule?

And, just for the record, I know that an infant’s sleeping pattern is another matter entirely, even under normal circumstances, but I couldn’t resist putting this picture of baby Mia up at the top of this post.

The comments are open. Let’s talk about Daylight Savings Time and your child’s sleep schedule.

About Kara

Kara Fleck is the editor of Simple Kids. She is a small town mama, writer, knitter, bookworm, and hooligan. Kara lives in Indiana with her husband Christopher and their four children Jillian, Max, Lucy, and Amelia. You can find more of her writing at KElizabethFleck.com.

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  1. We’ve just changed over to summer time down here and while my kids don’t seem to be having much problem with it, a month later and I am still confused! I am surprised at how much I assume from the amount of light there is outside, I am constantly running late with dinner and bath time because I think it is still early!
    katepickle´s latest post: Wordless Wednesday – What’s Hiding in Veroncia’s Garden?

  2. We adjust them in 15 minute increments. But as with the previous comment, it takes me a whole month to adjust…. :-)

  3. We already changed our clocks here in Europe last weekend. My 5 month old was a bit cranky the first few nights, because she wanted to go to bed before her usual time, but I think she has adjusted. My 3 year old sleeps usually in in the morning, so now she getting upan hour earlier, but it’s OK because it’s not too early for her. The older kids appreciate the extra hour in the morning, since they have to get up at 6:30am.
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  4. we just came home from an overseas trip and a 6 hour time difference 2 weeks ago, so the change last week (here in Europe) wasn’t noticed at all. we are not that strict with a certain time to go to bed anyway, we just go with the flow, depending on the light, how the evening went, if we have visitors etc, so the schedule can even change within a week from one day to the other. this causes a lot less stress and so far there haven’t been any troubles with time change.
    the only thing that makes it hard is when the days in the hight of summer are so very very long. that’s when i try to darken the bedroom just to give it some more of a bedtime feel.
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  5. My children had a terrible time with this as babies, but now that they are a bit older (almost 4 and 5), it seems to go easier. One thing that helps Mama is that I’ve trained my kids that if Mama is not awake, they are to look at books or play quietly in their rooms. Ofcourse some days are better than other days, but entertaining themselves allows me to get up and do my morning routine at my own pace. If Mama is happy, everyone else seems to be happier.

  6. Ya know… that is a stinker… it feels like they have a delayed response to the time change… as if it kicks in or catches up , as the case may be.. about three days later.
    I think nothing of sending kids to bed earlier… sleep is essential so we just do what we need to so everyone is rested…all 7 of them.
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  7. Isn’t it that Daylight savings time is ending and we are going back to standard time? When DTS starts in March, it is hard to get the little one to want to go to sleep with the sun shining through her window. As soon as school is out, they are allowed to stay up later and it’s not so much of a problem. For us, going back to standard time this weekend is going to make our already-dark mornings PITCH dark. I can’t stand it. It’s so hard to get up, get the kids up for school, try to feel like it’s the start of a new day when it is as dark as dark can be outside. I think the whole thing should be reversed, and we should spring forward an hour now. Our mornings would feel like morning, and it wouldn’t get dark at 4:30 in the dead of winter.
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  8. Without 4 and 6 year old we generally don’t do much. With our 2 year old that loves to wake up early, we are already adjusting his schedule back 15 minutes every night. So far we haven’t seen much change in the morning wake up time but since we’re also limiting naps we’ll start to see and adjustment in the next few days. Hopefully by the time we get to Saturday we’ll have it switched. But I still imagine it will take a good few weeks to get everyone on track.

  9. During Daylight Savings Time (summer months) the kids go to bed at 9 pm and get up at 8 am. During Standard Time (winter months) the kids go to bed at 8 pm and get up at 7 am. Easy peasy. Since we homeschool we usually don’t have anywhere we need to be in the morning (unless it’s a homeschool group park day or field trip, but those things rarely start before 9 or 10 am, anyway).

    When we travelback to Europe (usually to see family) we usually stretch our sleep schedule toward the European time a week before we leave and allow one day of adjusting for each hour of time difference. When we lived on the West coast that was a bigger feat. Now that we’re on the East coast it’s less of an upheaval.
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  10. Yes, it’s really hard for my daughter. (or should I say, for me?!?) If we don’t try to prepare her for this Sunday, then she will be up at 5:30 instead of 6:30 – even if we put her to bed at the “new time’s” bedtime. She has an internal clock that is mind-boggling in its accuracy – she has no idea how to sleep late! So, last night, tonight, and tomorrow night (Fri and Sat) we will keep her up an hour late in hopes that by Sunday morning she will be tired enough that she will wake up at her same time in the new time – which is usually 6:30. :) We do the reverse in the spring.

  11. My child has been a dreadful sleeper since almost day 1. But the one thing I learned is that almost always, without fail, if the kid is tired, let him go to bed, regardless of what time it is. Obviously I don’t let him go to bed at 3pm, but 5:30-6 is not out of the question. Last fall, when he was almost 4, he woke up at 5am by the clock. He had gone to bed at his regular time, around 7ish the night before. His body thought it was 6am, his regular wake time. Since he no longer napped, he was beat by 5pm. There was no keeping him up – he was cranky and miserable by then. Everyone thought I was crazy letting him go to bed that early. He slept until about 5:30 the next day and within another day we were back on track. I know that will sound early to most, but he’s always been an early riser (4:30 was common for about a year). But overall, as soon as I learned to go with HIS body clock and not the clock on the wall, we were all a lot happier.

  12. We’re planning a movie party tonight to keep the almost-3-year-old up late. I’m usually pleasantly surprised by how quickly he adjusts to time changes. Especially since we’ve never had any luck readjusting his internal clock to make his sleep more convenient for us! I suppose it’s not just the to-bed and wake times, but the rhythms throughout the day that give him clues as to when he needs his sleep.
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  13. I can’t say I have any tips for adjusting the kids sleep schedule. But I know I always feel exhausted and out of sorts the week after the change. So I make it a rule to never plan anything more than what’s already set. No playdates, etc. because its just too much. it helps me keep my sanity.
    Kiasa´s latest post: I DID IT!!!

  14. Interestingly, it’s actually Daylight Saving Time (“Saving” is singular, think “we are saving the daylight”). I just learned this a few years ago (along with “Brussels Sprouts” instead of “Brussel Sprouts”) and was so surprised!

  15. Adjusting our EATING schedules is the key to getting on track.

    Our bodies are so tuned to rhythm, so instead of just pushing the sleep part, we started pushing meals and snacks later in the day on Saturday. I think our bodies are much more tuned to, “I go to bed 2 hours after dinner” rather than, “I go to bed at 8:00.” When we ate dinner an hour later on Saturday, they were naturally ready for a later bedtime and slept until a normal hour on Sunday… granted, this is the first year we have been so successful, so I also attribute it to growing kids that are sleeping more than normal anyway these days!
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  16. Here is a link with some helpful tips: http://www.babysleepsite.com/schedules/baby-sleep-daylight-savings-2011/ :)
    Debbye @ The Baby Sleep Site´s latest post: November is Prematurity Awareness Month

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