Saturday, October 31st, is a big day — not only is it the much-anticipated (by kids) Halloween, it’s also the much-anticipated (by parents) last day before the time change. At two a.m. on Sunday, November 1st, we “fall back” and gain an extra hour of daylight in the morning. So, what does this combination of sugar, excitement and a change in time mean for little ones’ bodies? Just like Halloween shouldn’t mean a complete shift in your child’s diet, daylight saving time (DST) shouldn’t mean a complete shift in your child’s sleep routine.
Adjusting to the Time Change
Whether we’re moving the clock forward (as in spring) or backward (like now), children and adults may experience some sleep interruption as their bodies adjust to the time change. From my experience, children’s sleep is not impacted as much as parents may think, unless they are already struggling with sleep. A child who is a good sleeper may be slightly tired for a few days, but that’s all. It can take from one day to a week for our bodies to adjust to the time change and there is no way to avoid this.
There is no need to do anything elaborate in anticipation of DST. However, there are a few strategies you can use to help your child adjust to the time change more easily:
Keeping your child on their sleep schedule is key, especially over the DST weekend. I generally suggest that you don’t fill up your weekend with activities the day prior to and the day of DST. Being that Saturday is Halloween, that may be a bit tougher. Do your best to limit the number of Halloween events you attend and the amount of time spent trick-or-treating.
Keep your children on their regular sleep schedules and in their home sleeping environment, even at nap time. Sleep on the go will make their adjustment to the time change harder. Remember, sleep on the go does not allow your child to get REM sleep, which is what they need for development and mental growth.
On Sunday morning, be sure to base their sleep schedule on the new time. Getting them on track on the new time will help your little one’s body adjust more quickly to the time change.
Be consistent, and follow through with your child’s regular sleep routine so they are receiving the same sleep cues. Make sure they are not eating anything, especially candy, at least two hours before bedtime. Pull down the bedroom shades, read them a book, sing them a song, turn on a white noise machine, give them hugs and kisses, and then turn off the lights.
Set Your Clocks
Before you go to bed on Saturday, set all of the clocks around your house an hour back so that when you wake up in the morning your clocks already reflect the correct time.
As for Halloween, here are a few tips to avoid a sugar high:
- Serve your child a healthy meal before hitting the streets to trick-or-treat. With a full belly, your child will be less inclined to want to fill up on sweets.
- Limit the number of treats your child will be allowed to eat on the walk.
- Determine, beforehand, whether you’ll stash away (you can even freeze them) a portion of the treats for another time.
If you implement these strategies, your child is likely to adjust well to the changes both DST and Halloween bring. Happy DST, happy Halloween, and happy fall!