The dreaded daylight savings is upon us! We "spring forward" this Sunday, March 12th at 2:00 am. It often feels like we just recovered from one time change, and another is approaching. 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 by 15 minutes, so by the time daylight savings hits, they’ve already adjusted. Despite this being the “official recommendation” for a smooth daylight savings transition, 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.
Now that it’s lighter later, children often protest going to bed when the sun is up. About 30 minutes prior to bedtime, dim the lights to help the body transition to nighttime. Room darkening shades can really help with this, too. Keep the environment calm, and quiet before bed to get children relaxed and ready to sleep.
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 daylight savings time. 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!