Switching from daylight saving time to standard time throws off everyone’s routine. To help you and your child establish a routine that will lead to restful evenings and mornings, here are some ways to prepare your children for daylight saving time.
Hardly one enjoys the transition to daylight saving time. The sensation of grogginess and “I really don’t want to get out of bed” that follows the adjustment of the clocks can be exhausting for parents who are already struggling to get enough sleep. But, your children may find the disruption to their sleep schedules particularly challenging. “Little children need more sleep and don’t handle sleep deprivation as well as adults,” says Daniel Lewin, Ph.D., former associate director of sleep medicine at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C. Children’s attention, appetite, and general disposition can all be negatively impacted by even a single lost hour of sleep.
To lessen the blow that Daylight Saving Time can deliver, you can take preventative measures. You can do that with the help of these five ways.
1. Just Start Small
You can’t just move the clock forward an hour one night in the spring and assume your kid will be back on schedule the next day. Dr. Lewin advocates giving your child a gradual change in bedtime in the weeks leading up to daylight saving time to ease the transition. In other words, if your child normally sleeps in until 8 p.m., start putting them to bed at 7:45 p.m., then 7:30 p.m., and so on, until they’re in bed by 7 p.m., around four days before the time change. You should try to get them up and going a little earlier, too. Dr. Lewin suggests making the change slowly because it’s less of a shock to the system than expecting your child to go to sleep an hour earlier all of a sudden after the time change. Getting an older child to go to bed earlier might be challenging, so parents should instead try to get their children up earlier.
You can still benefit from this gradual method after daylight saving time ends in the fall; just shift your usual wake-up and sleep times to later in the fall instead of earlier.
2. Adjust the Lighting
The hormone melatonin plays an important role in maintaining the body’s natural 24-hour cycle. It rises as the sun goes down, which aids in sleep induction, and falls when the sun comes up, which might heighten wakefulness. Nonetheless, the transition to daylight saving time can be challenging for everyone, especially children. When it’s daylight, do yours want to sleep in, and when it’s dark, do they want to sleep in? Certainly not, in our opinion!)
To aid sleep, Dr. Lewin suggests shutting off all electronics at least 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime and reducing the lighting in your child’s bedroom. (The National Sleep Foundation warns that exposure to light and the cognitive stimulation caused by using such gadgets immediately before bedtime might negatively impact sleep duration, quality, and wakefulness.) Have your kid spend as much time as possible in natural light first thing in the morning. If the weather is nice, try eating breakfast outside or having your kid accompany you on a dog walk to expose them to some natural light. If that’s not possible, then at least make sure all the lights are on inside the house.
It’s crucial to keep your child’s usual sleep and wake times in mind when daylight saving time ends in the fall. What parent wants their child to wake up even earlier? When the clocks “fall back,” keep your youngster out in the early evening light and make sure their room isn’t too bright in the morning. (In a phrase: “blackout blinds!”)
3. Maintain a Regular Schedule
Maintaining your child’s regular sleep routine is especially crucial during the transition to and from daylight saving time. Dr. Lewin stresses the need for a consistent nighttime routine for children. A strong sleep signal can be generated in part because of this. A warm bath, a good book, and some cuddle time before bedtime are all good options for calming a fussy youngster down for the night.
4. Get Some Rest Right Now
Make sure your kid gets plenty of sleep in the days leading up to the time change. “Sleep begets sleep,” as Dr. Lewin puts it. Having a well-rested youngster during the transition to DST is beneficial since it reduces the likelihood that they may be grumpy and overtired.
5. Exhibit Empathy
If your child seems more irritable, frustrated, or challenging than usual on the days after daylight saving time, try to be more understanding. According to Dr. Lewin, “the time shift can create such transient fluctuations in your child’s attitude,” but having your patience and understanding will help them adjust.
While it’s important to prioritize your child’s rest, don’t neglect your own needs. Take care to get enough sleep yourself following the time change so that you don’t come across as irritated to your child, as this is a common complaint among adults. And keep in mind that these effects won’t last forever; life should return to normal in a week or so at the most.
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