Daylight Savings and Toddlers Sleep

Daylight Savings Time can be a pain to get through, especially if you have small children. They tend to not want to go to sleep or they wake up groggy and grumpy in the morning from too little sleep. Toddlers body clocks can be adversely affected by the change to their sleep pattern. It can even be hard for parents to sleep, and the combination can make your household feel like it’s in total chaos. Let’s learn about daylight savings and toddler’s sleep and how to avoid the bedtime battles.

During Daylight Savings Time, the time synchronizes better with how long the sun is up. It can affect your toddler’s sleep cycle because they won’t be tired at the normal time they would be put to sleep since we gain more time.

Daylight Savings Time was created with the idea that we would use less energy if we gain an hour to work by. It seems more efficient, right? But this can affect us and our childrens’ ability to sleep at the proper time. Keep reading to learn more about daylight savings time, how it affects our sleep, and how to prevent it from ruining your toddler’s sleep schedule.

Why Do We Have Daylight Savings Time?

According to Case Western Reserve University, Daylight Savings Time was created in Germany in 1916 to reduce wartime energy costs by better synchronizing daytime activities with the natural daylight hours. 

Daylight Savings Time wasn’t adopted in the United States until the passage of the Uniform Time Act of 1966, but Arizona and Hawaii elected to not use daylight savings time. Now there are about 70 countries that use Daylight Savings Time during summer.

Why Does Daylight Savings Time Affect Our Sleep?

Now that you know why we have Daylight Savings Time, let’s learn why it affects us as it does. 

The reason we all have an adjustment period when switching over to Daylight Savings Time is because of a hormone called melatonin. The missing hour from Daylight Savings Time is said to be equivalent to feeling an hour of jetlag. 

Melatonin is released in the evening hours, when daylight becomes less, and regulates our internal clocks for sleep. And per Today’s Parent, “ a time change of even only one hour can affect your baby’s circadian rhythms (physical, mental and behavioural changes that generally follow a 24-hour cycle)…”

Some things sleep can affect include:

  • Helps our bodies to heal
  • Helps our minds to relax
  • Helps minimize the effects of depression and anxiety
  • Boosts our immune systems
  • Help us control our appetites and cravings
  • Helps the production and regulation of hormones

So how do we help our children to get used to this time change and still be the healthiest versions of themselves (and not lose our sanity in the process)? Read on to find out more. 

Your Child’s Sleep Schedule During Daylight Savings Time

The biggest key to getting over this hump is patience, and lots of it. This may be difficult to do as we are also adjusting to the same time change ourselves. If we take the time to get our children adjusted then we can get adjusted faster as well. 

This time can be difficult for  some families and children as it can affect meal times, snack times, nap and bedtimes, and even bath times. 

Read below to find out more about why Daylight Savings Time affects your child the way it does and tips to lessen the pangs of change. 

Tips to Prevent Daylight Savings Time From Ruining Your Toddler’s Sleep Schedule

There are several things you can do to help make the transition from Standard Time to Daylight Savings Time easier for you and your child, and some are listed below:

  1. Patience is the biggest thing to have right now. Your little ones have no idea why they feel the way they feel right now. It will take their little bodies about a week to adjust to the time change and return to their sleep schedule. When you feel stressed when it’s sleep time, take a deep breath.
  2. Keep your bedtime routine. If they normally have bath time and get three books read to them before bed then you’ll want to do the same. Dont change the normal routine by having an earlier bedtime 
  3. Dim the lights in the bedroom. Avoiding light exposure will help with the “winding down” process and get them prepared to sleep quicker. 
  4. Try blackout curtains. They give a more gradual move into the new timing by blocking out the sunlight from an earlier sunrise. 
  5. No electronics for thirty minutes before bed. The light and the activity can stimulate their brains back awake and create poor sleep. You can use this time as quiet time, where they lay in bed and you read the bedtime story.
  6. Adjust their bedtime back in 10-15-minute increments until the full hour is done. Start this about a week before daylight savings time begins. 
  7. Adjust their meal or snack times back in 15-minute increments until the full hour is done. Doing this will also help them adjust to not waking up starving or being too hungry when trying to sleep.
  8. Soak it up. Whether it’s the extra sunlight or the extra sleep. Allow yourself and your children to enjoy the good aspects of the change. Go to the park and let them get some exercise, as this can also help your toddler sleep.

Following these steps will help tremendously and help you breathe a sigh of relief when your schedule is back to its usual pace. 


So the key to keeping your children on schedule despite the time change is to be patient. The changes listed above may be met with absolutely no resistance by some and a bit of pushback by others. But keep consistent with them and you will feel like you are back on schedule in no time. Till then, remember to enjoy the parts of the time change that you can. 

About the author
Daisy is a writer, mom, and expert on all things toddler-related. As a parent of three young children, she's experienced the highs and lows of parenthood firsthand, and she's passionate about sharing her insights with others. Through her website, The Toddler Life, Daisy offers practical advice and tips on everything from potty training to picky eaters. She's not afraid to get real about the challenges of parenting, and her honest and relatable writing style has earned her a loyal following of readers.