The dreaded transition from daylight savings is upon us (the clocks fall back on Sunday, Nov 6, 2016)! It often feels like we just recovered from one time change, and another is approaching. “Falling back” can be particularly challenging for parents of young children. While folks without young kids are excited about an extra hour of sleep, those of us with wee ones actually have to get up earlier; our adorable, sleeping baby who used to rise at 6:30 am now wakes at 5:30 am (and yes, they’re slightly less adorable at that hour!). So what can we do to help our kids adjust to this change (and keep our sanity!)?
In an ideal world, we could to begin to shift our children’s schedules a week ahead of time. Every few days we’d move their sleep and mealtimes later by 15 minutes, so that when the time change hits, they’ve already adjusted. Despite this being the “official recommendation” for a smooth transition from daylight savings, I’ve yet to meet one person to actually do it (myself included with my own kids!). The world outside our homes doesn’t accommodate such a gentle shift; school starts when school starts and you need to get to work on time, not 15-45 minutes late.
Never fear! Here are some tips to help your children adjust to the new time.
Expose your children to lots of sunlight during the day. Our circadian rhythms align with the sun, so exposure to natural light helps our bodies adjust to the appropriate time.
Stick with your bedtime routine. If you don’t have a bedtime routine already, now is a great time to start. Children thrive on routines, so having one can be incredibly helpful to give structure to the time before bed. A quiet routine is calming to them and helps them relax and ease into bedtime. It can be as simple as pajamas on, brush teeth, read a book/sing a song, lights out. Don’t make it overly complex. You want this to be replicable daily, and easily done by a babysitter in your absence.
Minimize exposure to electronics at least an hour prior to bedtime. This is true all year round, but especially now when we’re trying to help kids adjust to a time change. Electronic screens emit a blue light that mimics a bright, sunny sky and tricks the body into thinking it is daytime. The result of this is that melatonin, the hormone that helps induce sleep, is suppressed, making it more challenging to fall asleep.
If all else fails, find a big mug and fill it with coffee. I’m sure you’ll be in good company!
Lauren studied under Deborah Pedrick, a pioneer in the field and founder of the Family Sleep Institute (FSI) and International Association of Child Sleep Consultants. She is thrilled to be able to educate families on the importance of sleep and to empower parents with the knowledge and ability to teach their kids to love sleep as much as her girls do!