October 29, 2013

DST ends Sunday: Tips for a successful transition

ST. LOUIS -- Yes, it's that dreaded time again….standard time is just around the corner. On November 3, 2013, we will move the clocks back by one hour. If your children easily adjust to the time change, you may be lucky and get an extra hour of sleep. Most of you, however, should expect that your children will wake up to an hour earlier until their bodies have adjusted to the new time. Renee Wasserman, Certified Child Sleep Consultant by the Family Sleep Institute and Founder of SleepyHead Solutions in St. Louis, offers some child sleep tips to help ease the pain of the end of Daylight Saving Time:

For the less sensitive baby or child…

Go with the flow. There is no need to prepare them for the time change. Come Sunday, adjust the entire day to the new time including naps, bedtime, and meals. Within a few days his body will adjust.

For those children who have some difficulty with sleep transitions…

Start the transition to the new time several days before DST ends. On Wednesday, October 30th, begin to shift the bedtime later by 15 minutes. Each subsequent day, shift the bedtime an additional 15 minutes. Be sure to adjust his entire day (naps, bedtime, and meals). By Sunday, your little ones' body will already be on the way to adjusting to the new time.

For the first week or two after DST ends, keep the lights a bit dimmer for the first hour or so after waking in the morning and the lights a bit brighter for the last hour of the day. This will help the resetting of your child's internal clock to the new time.

With any change to schedule or routine, the more rested your little one can be leading up to the change, the more successful the transition will be. Spend time now getting naps and night sleep in order so your little one is not overtired. A well-rested sleeper will handle this transition much more smoothly than an overtired child!

Tips for making Sunday (and the following days) as smooth as possible:

Spend lots of time outdoors. Physical activity will help ensure that your little one is tuckered out in time for naps and bedtime. Being in the natural light will also help them reset their internal clocks.

If your little one wakes early in the morning on Sunday, do your best to get him to go back to sleep until the regular wake time (according the new time). If he does wake early, on Sunday only, go ahead and get him out of bed a bit earlier than his regular wake time.

Keep him awake until the correct time for his naps. Spending time outdoors will help make this more successful.

In the evening, do your best to keep your child awake until his normal bedtime.

Have realistic expectations. It could take anywhere from a few days to a week or two for your little one's internal clock to reset to this new time. As with all sleep training, the most important thing is for Mom and Dad to approach this transition with patience, confidence, and consistency.

Originally from Los Angeles and now living in St. Louis, Renee Wasserman holds a Masters in Public Health and is a Physical Therapist with more than 15 years of experience. With her experiences in both the health care field and those that come with a being a mom to 3 girls (ages 5, 7, and 9), she discovered her passion for children's sleep issues and founded SleepyHead Solutions.

As a Family Sleep Institute certified infant and child sleep consultant, Renee empowers parents to teach their children to become healthy sleepers. She offers many services including phone, email, Skype/FaceTime, and in person consultations to solve a child's sleep challenges as well as to help parents set their newborns on the right track toward a healthy sleep foundation.

Renee also serves as a volunteer ambassador for the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Safe to Sleep campaign. This campaign aims to educate parents, caregivers and health care provi ders about ways to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).