Springing Forward to Daylight Savings Time

We moan about losing an hour in the spring for good reason – it is more difficult to adjust to this time change in March.  Our bodies naturally handle a “later” bedtime when we “fall back” one hour in November.  “We are so sleep deprived to begin with, the extra hour of sleep is welcome!” says Dr. Robert Oexman, director of the Sleep to Live Institute and HuffPost blogger.  “Thanks to that extra hour, ‘falling back’ isn’t nearly as disruptive to our bodies as “springing forward.” Our circadian rhythms, or our bodies’ natural clocks, operate on a slightly longer than 24-hour cycle”, he says. “Being able to extend our day is much easier than it is to shorten our day. The body clock is used to a little bit of extra time.”

With this in mind, don’t be surprised if it takes up to a week for your child’s body clock to adjust to the new time.  Here’s how to make the 1-hour “spring forward” more successfully:

  • Try to get enough daytime sleep in on the Saturday before the clock moves ahead 1 hour.
  • Keep to your regular routine.  If you normally get up at 7:00 in the morning, get up at 7:00 in the morning (which will feel like 6:00 am) the day of the time change.  Keep mealtimes, naptimes and bedtimes the same.
  • Get outside in the morning light.  Light is a powerful influence in re-setting the body’s clock.
  • Watch your child’s sleep cues.  S/he may need to catch an extra catnap or go to bed a wee bit earlier for a couple of days.
  • If the 1-hour time change is too drastic, make the shift more gradually – for instance, move the entire schedule for the day ahead by 15 or 30 minutes at a time over several days.

The good news?  Spring is just around the corner!


Margot Byer
Sleephaven Sleep Consultation
Helping Tired Families Sleep