Daylight Savings Time can be tough on anyone, and adults know how it feels to try and get out of bed after we’ve switched the clocks. Whether or not we are “springing forwarded” or “falling back”, the effects of Daylight Savings can last for days or even weeks before you begin to adjust properly. Though it is tough on everyone, families truly feel the effects of the time change, especially if they have young children who are on a daily schedule.
Sleep is a very important part of a child’s development. Research shows that children need more sleep than adults and do not adjust to a lack of sleep the way adults can. A loss of sleep can cause mental and negative effects on young children. Children who do not get enough sleep may have a more difficult time focusing or managing their moods. Sleep also is primarily when the growth hormone is produced. If a child lacks sleep, it could affect their weight.
Thankfully, each year we know when Daylight Savings is coming so families can put into place a plan to help their children adjust better.
- Prepare Early – Families shouldn’t shift their children’s day by an hour one day and except their children to adjust right away. One of the best defenses against Daylight Savings Time is to start preparing your family early on. A few days to a week before Daylight Savings starts, start adjusting their bedtime to match the new time change. For example, if we are “falling back” an hour, adjust your child’s bedtime to 15 minutes earlier each day, so that come time for the time change, your child will hopefully have adjusted a bit and goes to sleep at or close to their normal bedtime. You can do the same with their naps.
- Stick to a Routine – Do your best to stick to your child’s routine throughout the day at the normal times they are used to. This, plus the modifications done in advance, can really help your child. Even if the timing of your schedule is a little off, continue to do what you typically would do throughout the day, especially during bedtime. If your child typically takes a bath, enjoys a little snack, and/or reads a book before bed, try to move your timing up with the earlier bedtime as you prepare.
- Let There Be Light – Many families are familiar with how light and dark play a part in how a child sleeps, especially a newborn. Use this same method when adjusting to Daylight Savings. When waking your child up, be sure to expose them to the daylight. Open up the shades and let the light in so their internal clocks can begin to adjust. At night, be sure to close the blinds or use room darkening shades to ensure the environment in their room signifies it is time to sleep.
- Be Patient – The best defense against any challenges you may face when adjusting your family to Daylight Savings Time is to be remain patient. It is easy to become frustrated when you are tired yourself, but remember that in time your children will adjust to the new change and your family should be back on schedule before you know it!
What ways does your family prepare for Daylight Savings?