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the crib sheet

One step (hour) forward, two steps back (ugh)

Brooke Nalle

I have been stressing about the fall time change for the past 8 years.  When my son was newly sleep trained at 8 months, I broadcasted loudly to my friends and colleagues just how lucky I was to finally have such a good sleeper.  The more seasoned (no pun intended) parents smiled and me and inquired how I would handle the time change coming our way in just a few days.  My smile faded and stress sunk in.  My newly minted 6am sleeper (trust me this was a big improvement) might now get up at 5?

I have learned both personally and professionally that there are a few ways to handle this extra fun sleep challenge.  Who doesn't love a good ol' sleep challenge to test your wits and patience.  

1. Be proactive -

If your sleeper is under 3, shift bedtime and naps ahead in small increments - 15 minutes usually works - over the course of 3 to 5 days.  You can spread it out over a week if you want.  You might spend a few days with a 1:15 nap before you shift to a 1:30 nap, but your goal is to get to the full hour before Sunday at 2am.

If your sleeper is 3 and up, you can shift the day forward in a bigger increment over the course of just a few days, maybe 20 minutes one day, 30  minutes the next and then boom the full hour in time for the change.

2. Thought I would be proactive this year, but never got around to it (usually my case)

  • Do what you were going to do above but do it over the course of 3 days after the time change, small shifts to the new time, bigger shifts for your older child. 
  • Embrace the chaos, move right to the new time, the days and wake ups will be bumpy but you will get there after 3 days or so.  Follow the suggestions below about moving eating schedules and light and sunshine to ease the transition.

The key to working ahead of the game is to shift meals too.  The easiest way to shift a sleep schedule is to shift an eating schedule at the same time.  

If your sleeper is up early keep the lights off or low until the 'morning' and then use light to cue the daytime and get outside into the sun as much as possible during awake times.