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This Sunday morning, March 13, we move the clocks one hour ahead and therefore lose an hour of sleep. It means that your child might not be ready for sleep when the clock indicates bed time.  It also means your child might sleep LATE according to the clock on Monday when it’s time to go to school. This is the time of year when I find BLACK OUT curtains most helpful. 

On Sunday, do everything you can to get ready for school the next day-- if you don’t already, check the weather and put out morning clothes and jackets, make lunch, check the book bag.   You can plan a special “let’s leave and pick up an egg sandwich or chocolate croissant” or some other breakfast food, rather than a regular breakfast at home if you know that’s your slow time.  Have a yogurt drink on hand to carry out the door so your child still gets a full meal!  Younger children don’t enjoy being rushed.  Be careful with TEENS-- who should not be driving when they are sleepy. 

With younger kids you can help them out a bit more.  Here are my sleep suggestions for kids up to 10 years old:  (to check average sleep requirements, click here)

If your child is getting enough sleep already, try putting him to sleep 10 minutes later each night starting on Thursday night.  For a child who goes to bed at 7:00 it would look like this... (if your child is napping, adjust naps accordingly)

  • Thursday = 7:10
  • Friday = 7:20
  • Saturday = 7:30
  • Sunday = 6:40 (if your child is older than 6 and/or not a very finicky sleeper, you can shift to 7:00 directly)
  • Monday = 6:50
  • Tuesday = 7:00

If your child isn’t getting enough sleep, this is a good time to adjust.  Try putting her to bed at the new time (which will be early).  For a child who goes to bed at 7:00 but may be overtired, it would look like this...

  • Sunday = 7:00

And then see what time she wakes up.  If she sleeps a fuller night, stick to this bedtime.

In general, I try to stick to “when your body is tired” to signal sleep, and don’t hesitate to help my children into bed 10 to 15 minutes early if they are clearly tired.  By the same token, as my children get older there are some days where staying up a bit later doesn’t throw them-- but it is still a fine line.

Other key sleep points

  • try not to glorify “staying up late”
  • use blackout shades so kids are used to the dark at night-- even street lights can be disturbing
  • open the shades in the morning so the moment they are up natural light is part of their world (and it helps to re-set the body clock when we do shift the clock, or when we travel)

*I suggest starting Thursday so you have little interference with caregiving arrangements or school wake-up.  If it’s just you and your baby, you can start a day or two earlier, especially if you expect a busy weekend.  If you have older kids, be mindful that they will truly be tired on Monday, Tuesday, and most likely Wednesday mornings.  This could be a nice time to do something special to help their morning routine, or connect by taking them out for a quick breakfast.

Check out this link for a previous question about daylight savings time...


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