Daylight Saving Time: Prevent Kid Sleep Problems
Daylight Saving Time (DST) is winding down, prompting us to turn our clocks back one hour this weekend. While some people cheer in anticipation, individuals who answer to the name “Mom” or “Dad” often brace themselves for a week filled with extremely early wakeups and consistent crankiness.
“Children are especially sensitive to sleep changes and the effects of lack of sleep. There are studies to show that behavior problems, and actual physical problems can stem from lack of sleep, so be sure to give your child the benefit of the doubt during this time,” says Dr. Deborah Givan, MD, sleep specialist at Riley at IU Health. Here’s how to make the adjustment easier:
- Ease into the time change. Extend your child’s bedtime by 30 minutes the night before the clocks fall back. You should also expose your child to more bright light in the evening to prevent his or her body clock from dictating bedtime. This will lessen the impact of the time shift.
- Stick to your routines. Children thrive on structure, so be sure to follow the exact same bedtime routine despite the time difference. Why? Kids thrive on routine so adhering to the same activities and actions will make it easier for them to cope.
- Create a suitable sleep environment. Prevent restless sleepers from exiting their bed with the earlier rising of the sun by installing blackout shades or heavy curtains to snuff out natural light. You can also consider placing a white noise machine on their nightstand to keep their bedroom calm and quiet.
- Be patient. At the end of your rope? Remember, it’s all temporary. “For children, the side effects of daylight savings time generally dissipates within one week of the time alteration,” explains Dr. Givan.
-- By Deirdre Uria