Some people love it, others hate it. Either way, the inevitable is going to happen at 2 a.m. this Sunday, Nov. 5, when the clocks roll back one hour signaling the end of Daylight Saving Time (DST).
While most people reap the luxury of that extra hour of sleep, it’s harder for a child’s internal clock to reset. Ergo, if your child is used to waking up at 6:30 a.m., don’t be surprised when he’s waking up at 5:30 a.m. after the time change. For some children, it only takes a couple of days to adjust while others take longer. Here are five strategies to help with the transition:
1) MAKE ADJUSTMENTS IN ADVANCE
Start making the shift a few days in advance by making bedtime 15 minutes later each day starting on Wednesday. For example, if your child’s bedtime right now is 7:30 p.m., on Wednesday, make it 7:45 p.m. On Thursday, make bedtime 8 p.m., Friday 8:15 p.m., Saturday 8:30 p.m. That way, your kiddo is going to bed one hour later when the time change takes place.
2) GET ENOUGH SLEEP AHEAD OF THE TIME CHANGE
Do your best to get plenty of sleep in the days leading up to DST. Sleep begets sleep, and keep in mind that kids who are overtired will have a harder time adjusting to the time change. And don’t skip the naps!
3) THE SUN IS YOUR FRIEND
Studies show that exposure to sunlight during daytime helps extend nighttime sleep.
“Get sunlight soon after awakening, and go outside for a walk,” says Lauren Hale, a professor at Stony Brook University School of Medicine and founding editor-in-chief of the the journal Sleep Health.
Sunlight signals the brain to wake up and helps to adjust your body’s circadian rhythm. The human body is most responsive to light in the morning hours between 6 – 9 a.m., so getting your kids outside early might help their biological clocks adjust more quickly.
4) BOLSTER YOUR CHILD’S BEDTIME ROUTINE
Everyone typically responds in a positive manner to a bedtime routine, kids and adults alike. Leading up to DST, maintain your usual bedtime rituals and add some extra attention. Turn off all screens after dinner — the high-intensity light from smartphones and tablets can greatly interfere with winding down for a healthy night’s sleep. Use the adjustment period around the time change to enjoy some extra family bonding. Ditch the technology and break out a board game or a book to read together after dinner. Spruce up bedtime routines by adding a warm, relaxing bath with essential oils (for older kids; lavender promotes sleep) before getting into those jammies. And hey, one more story once in bed doesn’t hurt!
5) LIGHTEN UP
No matter how much you prepare, there’s bound to be a hiccup with the time adjustment. Don’t sweat it. Your child may adjust in a couple of days or a week. It will pass. Be more forgiving if your little one throws a tantrum.
And don’t forget to take care of YOU! Do the best you can to ease up on your own busy schedule and remain lighthearted. As the shorter days and longer nights approach, our bodies biologically slow down a bit. And for yourself, once the kids are tucked away in their beds, a glass of wine or two doesn’t hurt!