8 TIPS TO SURVIVE DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TODDLER SLEEP
Daylight saving time (DST) is a biannual event that many adults have grown accustomed to, but for parents with toddlers and children, it can be a challenging and dreaded period.
The adjustment in time, even if just one hour, can disrupt their little one’s sleep patterns, leading to crankiness, difficulty falling asleep, and early wake-ups. Often, young children’s entire schedules wreck havoc for several days, including their feeding schedules and nap times.
As caregivers, it is essential to understand the effects of daylight savings on toddler sleep and learn how to facilitate a smooth transition during these bi-yearly time changes.
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The Impact Of Daylight Saving Time On Toddler Sleep
Toddlers and young children are particularly sensitive to disruptions in their sleep routines, and the shift caused by daylight saving time can have a more pronounced effect on their sleep-wake cycle. The main issue lies in the abrupt change, twice a year, in their internal body clock, also known as the circadian rhythm. When the clocks spring forward or fall back, toddlers may find it challenging to adjust to the new schedule.
Parents may notice that their child’s sleeping pattern is disrupted the few days following the time change. The disruption can last up to a week, and some find it worse than a proper timezone change… Toddlers may struggle to fall asleep at their usual bedtime, wake up earlier than usual, have a hard napping at their regular nap time, eat at regular mealtimes, or even experience frequent nighttime awakenings. Such disturbances can lead to sleep deprivation, which may, in turn, affect their mood, behavior, and overall development.
Tips For Managing Toddler Sleep During Daylight Saving Time
A week before the daylight saving time change, begin shifting your child’s bedtime and wake-up time by 15 minutes every two to three days. This gradual adjustment can help ease the transition and make the time change less jarring.
Remember that in the Spring, you will put them down 15 minutes earlier with each gradual change. If your child’s bed time is 8PM, put him/her down at 7:45PM a week before the time change, then move him/her to 7:30PM half way through the week, and so on.
In the Fall, do the opposite and move their bed time 15 minutes later every couple of days leading up to the time change.
Consistency is key. Sticking to your everyday schedule, no matter the day (summer / winter, week days / weekends) is incredibly important, for your toddler, and yourself. Having a sleep routine gives your body the cues that it is time to wind down and get ready for a restful night of sleep.
During daylight savings time changes, stick to your toddler’s regular sleep routine as much as possible. Children thrive on predictability, and maintaining consistent sleep schedules can help stabilize their circadian rhythms during times of change. If they are used to going to bed at 8PM, stick to that as much as possible.
Create a Soothing Bedtime Routine
Establish a calming bedtime routine that signals to your toddler that it is time to wind down and prepare for sleep. That routine should be followed every day of the year, if possible. Activities like reading a story, taking a warm bath, or cuddling can be helpful in promoting relaxation.
Soon, their minds and bodies will know that listening to a specific track, reading with a parent, brushing their teeth, or cuddling means that sleeping time is coming. It will help their bodies start producing melatonin, the sleep hormone signaling rest and sleep to your body.
Optimize the Sleep Environment
Ensure that your child’s sleep environment is conducive to restful sleep. Keep the room cool, dark, and quiet, and consider using blackout curtains to block out any additional daylight during the extended evenings.
You will likely find, especially in older toddlers in northern states, that long daylight hours make it hard for their bodies (and yours) to understand that it is time to wind down. Did you know that anything above 8 lumens, tells your body that it should be in wake mode? Make sure to have a solution to keep their rooms dark and conclusive to sleep!
Encourage Daytime Sunlight Exposure
Exposure to natural light during the day helps regulate the body’s internal clock. Encourage outdoor playtime during daylight hours to reinforce your toddler’s circadian rhythm. This is especially important during the winter in northern states, where light levels are low, even during the day. Taking the children outdoors will keep their circadian rhythm running smooth.
Limit Screen Time
Minimize screen time, especially in the hour leading up to bedtime. The blue light emitted by screens can interfere with the production of the sleep hormone melatonin, making it harder for toddlers to fall asleep.
As you work your way towards the full hour of change, 15 minutes at a time, make sure to adjust when your toddler is exposed to screens. By moving screen time by 15 minutes, together with bed time, blue light emissions will remain constant with their regular rhythm.
Be Patient and Understanding
Remember that adjusting to daylight saving time for your toddler, may take a few days or even a week to settle into the new routine. Be patient and understanding during this transition, offering comfort and reassurance as needed.
While it is easy to get upset at a child’s reaction to bedtime, keeping calm and understanding that this is a naturally challenging process will help with the process.
Adjust Nap Times and Eating Times Gradually
If your toddler takes naps, adjust these gradually in the days following the time change. Similarly to bedtime, shift nap times by 15 minutes every few days until you reach the desired schedule.
Similarly, make sure to adjust lunch, snack, and dinner times, starting on the day of the actual time change. It will be confusing for you to prepare dinner an hour earlier, but worth it at bed time!
8 Tips To Survive Daylight Savings Toddler Sleep
Daylight saving time can be a challenging time for parents of toddlers, as the shift in the sleep-wake cycle can disrupt children’s sleep patterns. However, with a little preparation and patience, you can ease the transition and minimize the impact on their sleep and moods.
By gradually adjusting their bedtime and wake-up time, maintaining a consistent sleep routine, optimizing the sleep environment, and encouraging daytime sunlight exposure, parents can help their toddlers adapt to the time change smoothly. Additionally, limiting screen time and providing comfort and understanding during this adjustment period will contribute to a better overall sleep experience for both parents and toddlers.
Remember that every child is unique, and the time it takes to adjust may vary. Stay consistent in your efforts, and soon your toddler will be back to enjoying restful nights and refreshed mornings, no matter the season’s time change.
- National Library of Medicine. (2018). Daylight Saving Time, Circadian Rhythm, and Cardiovascular Health. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6469828/
- National Library of Medicine. (2020). Daylight Saving Time: an American Academy of Sleep Medicine Position Statement. Retrieved from https://jcsm.aasm.org/doi/10.5664/jcsm.8780
Most frequent questions and answers
To help your toddler adjust to daylight saving time, consider implementing a gradual adjustment to their sleep schedule, maintaining consistency in their sleep routines, creating a soothing bedtime routine, optimizing the sleep environment, and encouraging daytime sunlight exposure.
Ideally, begin adjusting your toddler’s sleep schedule about a week before the daylight saving time change. Gradually shift their bedtime and wake-up time by 15 minutes every two to three days to ease the transition.
A calming bedtime routine can help signal to your toddler that it’s time to wind down and prepare for sleep. Activities like reading a story, taking a warm bath, cuddling, or gentle rocking can be part of the routine.
Yes, if your toddler takes naps, it’s essential to adjust their nap times gradually in the days following the time change. Similar to bedtime, shift nap times by 15 minutes every few days until the desired schedule is achieved.
Using blackout curtains can be helpful, especially during the extended evenings when there is more daylight. These curtains can block out excess light and create a more conducive sleep environment.
More Sleep Resources
Can snoring occur in all stages of sleep?
Yes, snoring can occur during all stages of sleep, including N1, N2, N3 (deep sleep), and REM sleep. However, the frequency and intensity of snoring may vary depending on the sleep stage.
Is snoring more common during a specific sleep stage?
Snoring is more prevalent during N2 sleep, which is the most abundant sleep stage. However, snoring can also occur during other stages, such as N1 and N3.
Why does snoring happen more during N2 sleep?
Snoring during N2 sleep is more likely due to muscle relaxation and increased airway resistance. Factors like sleeping position, muscle tone, and the presence of any underlying conditions can also contribute to snoring during this stage.
Is snoring during deep sleep (N3) more severe than snoring in other stages?
Snoring during deep sleep (N3) can be louder and more intense due to profound muscle relaxation and decreased muscle tone. However, the severity of snoring can vary depending on individual factors and the presence of underlying conditions like sleep apnea.
Does snoring occur during REM sleep?
Snoring during REM sleep is less common compared to non-REM stages due to muscle atonia, a temporary paralysis that occurs to prevent acting out dreams. However, certain sleep disorders may cause snoring during REM sleep.