Brigitte Langevin, speaker and author who specialises in how children and adults sleep, shares with us some tips and tricks on how to deal with the fall time change.

In 2019, Quebec and North America the fall time change will take place on November 3rd (October 27th in France and on the European continent). In the night from Saturday to Sunday, watches and clocks will be moved back by one hour; 3 o'clock in the morning will then be 2 o'clock. This give us all an extra hour to sleep.

This return to normal time is much easier to absorb than the spring time change, which deprives us of 60 minutes of sleep. Most of us will make up the difference in a day but will find the return to work on Monday much more painful than usual. It must be said, however, that even in the absence of jet lag, Mondays are painful for most of us... And especially for babies, as it is much more difficult. A baby who is used to waking up at 6 o'clock in the morning will probably wake up at 5 o'clock that Sunday.

Some parents believe that it is necessary to start one or two weeks before the time change to allow a good integration with their baby. This is not advisable at all in this case. The ideal time is to wait until the morning of the time change. No need to wait for your baby to start crying, however, if it is possible to let him/her wait in their bed, do it for a maximum of 60 minutes. Maybe you'll have the chance to see them go back to sleep for a few minutes. If they don’t, lift them up and start your morning routine.

Naps should begin at the same time as when we were in Daylight Saving Time. If your baby woke up at 5 o'clock, it may be difficult to sleep for the morning nap as usual, which if it is usually between 8:00 - 8:30, they will probably fall asleep due to being tired at around 7:00 to 7:30. Try to push the time of your baby’s nap as much as possible to the usual time. Same thing for the nap of the beginning and end of the afternoon and at night time. However, we may need to accept that baby may be grumpier during the day. I even suggest to avoid imposing too many different activities on your child that day, such as sleeping outside their home or overly stimulating activities.

If on Monday morning, your baby wakes up again at 5 o'clock, the cause will no longer be the time change! The brain will have adjusted, because it controls our internal biological clock and 24 hours are enough. In fact, it is more likely to be a bad habit that has occurred. Be careful, the time change can bear a lot when it comes to finding a cause of our babies’ early morning awakenings or their difficulty falling asleep during nap time. It is too easy to fall into this trap. The change in schedule can also be made up in a day or two, at most, in babies, provided they keep the same hours of sunrise and sunset that prevailed before the time change. Trust your baby's internal clock, it will be able to regulate itself.

At day care, the Monday’s naps and the weekend ones should take place as usual. A child who does not sleep well that day or during the week should not be removed from the nap and will be even less willing to change it because he or she does not adapt well to the time change. Again, this is giving way to creating bad sleep habits. Changing the duration or the nap time thinking it is going to help children adapt can destabilize the balance found in the daytime sleep. Let's not forget that where we as adults see an exception, for them, children, this is an opportunity to exploit!

Finally, for us adults, the reason why the beginning of the week is so exhausting is that during the weekend, we break the routine and we sleep in the morning. We usually sleep at least an hour more on Saturday and Sunday morning. In the evening, we tend to eat copiously and, moreover, we go to bed later than usual. Elements that help to make Monday mornings more difficult (but the weekends more enjoyable!)

If you need more information to better understand all the issues of your babies’ sleep? Here are some information sessions (in French), by age group to watch at home. They have been designed by age group to find the one that suits you best.

© Brigitte Langevin