Early Riser? Take Advantage of the Spring Time Change to Help Your Child Sleep Later

My heart goes out to all the sleep deprived parents who are struggling to get their children (and themselves) more sleep.  I have a particularly special place in my heart for those parents who have an early riser. And when I say an early riser, I don’t just mean a babe who wakes up at 6 a.m.—I am talking about those parents who have children that wake up in the 5 o’clock, or even the (sigh) 4 o’clock hour.  I firmly believe that no one should have to wake up before 6 a.m., especially not parents—Lord knows we need our rest.

If you are a lucky parent with children that sleep past 6 a.m., read no further and check out my article about how to acclimate your child to Daylight Savings Time.   

If you are the not-so-lucky parent of an early riser don’t fret, help is on the way!   You, my friend, are going to take FULL advantage of the upcoming change to Daylight Savings Time (DST) and nip those early wakings in the bud, once and for all.  Hooray! When the clock springs ahead, that means your child will naturally wake up an hour later. Well, at least according to the clock. Just think: 6 a.m. instead of 5!  Isn’t it crazy to think of 6 a.m. as an “acceptable” wake time?

To make DST work to your advantage, you have two choices:

1.  Gradually move bedtime, nap time and the feeding schedule up by an hour using the plan below, starting on the first day of the time change.  At the end of the process, your children will be going to bed at the usual “clock time,” but it will feel an hour earlier to their body. Furthermore, their body will still wake up at the usual time, but the clock will say that it is an hour later.  Better still, they will be getting an extra hour of sleep at night as a result.

This is my preferred option as most early wakings are caused by overtiredness.

The Plan:

  • Day 1 and 2: Put your child down for their nap(s) and bedtime 45 minutes later (which will only feel 15 minutes early to them).  
    • For example, if they typically nap at 1 p.m. and go to bed at 7 p.m., their timing on day 1 would be nap at 1:45 p.m. and bedtime at 7:45 p.m.
  • Day 3 and 4: Put your child down for their nap(s) and bedtime 30 minutes later than usual.  

  • Day 5 and 6: Put your child down for their nap(s) and bedtime 15 minutes later than usual.

  • Day 7: You’ll be back to your normal “clock schedule,” but will be waking up an hour later than normal.

2. If you have tried an earlier bedtime in the past and it only resulted in an earlier wake time, then you’ll want to shift everything—bed time, nap time and the feeding schedule—by one hour. This way, your child’s body clock doesn’t change, but they will be sleeping later according to DST.  

For example, if your child’s schedule is

  • 5 a.m. wake up

  • 8 a.m. nap #1

  • 1 p.m. nap #2

  • 7 p.m. bed time

Your child’s new schedule after the time change would be

  • 6 a.m. wake up

  • 9 a.m. nap #1

  • 2 p.m. nap #2

  • 8 p.m. bed time

(I know this it isn’t rocket science but, if you are sleep deprived, this little gem may have slipped your mind)

Hopefully one of the plans above helps your little one sleep until an appropriate hour.  If not, don’t give up hope. Sleep is very complex and that is why I am here. Let’s talk it out!  Schedule your free 15 minute phone evaluation here.