Despite the loss of an hour’s sleep, the annual ritual of “springing forward” an hour to kick off daylight saving time is usually a welcome sign that spring and summer are on the way. But if you have children — especially young ones — they probably won’t get the memo about the time shift. That could mean a few rough nights (and mornings) for the whole household.
How to Shift Your Kids to a New Springtime Sleep Schedule
Here are some tips on preparing your kids for the start of daylight saving.
Adjust their sleep schedule gradually
Use the week leading up to the clock change to gradually shift your kids’ bedtime earlier by 10 to 15 minutes each day. That way, when the time change arrives, they won’t be as affected by going to bed a full hour earlier.
Anticipate a delayed bedtime
Adjusting to a time change takes a little while, especially for kids. Be prepared for your children to be more wide awake than usual at bedtime during the first week or so after you move the clocks forward. However, try to encourage them to stay in their rooms and do restful activities (such as quietly playing with a toy or looking at a picture book) until they drift off.
Having your kids sleep a little later in the morning may be a welcome change the first few days after you move the clocks. But if you (or they) need to be somewhere early in the morning, anticipate that they might not bound out of bed as easily as usual and plan accordingly.
Consider changes in dark and light
Make sure that your child’s room is as dark as possible at bedtime. You might even consider hanging blackout shades in windows to help create a dark environment, especially as the days continue to lengthen. Also, ensure that your child has exposure to plenty of natural light during the day. This helps regulate the body’s natural rhythms.
In some parts of the country, moving the clocks forward means a return to dark mornings for a while, just as everyone was getting used to earlier sunrises. If your child really has a hard time getting up, consider a visual alarm clock that gradually makes the room brighter as wake-up time approaches.
Bedtime Rituals for a Good Night’s Sleep All Year Long
It’s not just kids who are affected by sleep disruptions. According to the National Sleep Foundation, it’s important to create good sleep habits (sleep hygiene) and follow your routine consistently. The following tips can help you transition during the twice-annual time changes and enjoy good sleep year-round:
- Avoid alcohol and electronics at night.
- Create a relaxing routine at night, whether it’s turning the TV off 30 minutes before bedtime or avoiding exercise two hours before bedtime.
- Eliminate bedroom noise that can interrupt sleep.
- Keep your bedroom temperature cool, around 60 to 67 degrees.
- Keep a consistent bedtime and wake-up time.
- Use bright light to help manage your circadian rhythms.
Resetting your 24-hour natural cycle (circadian rhythm) takes some time, and that single-hour shift in the spring and fall can be a bit jarring even for grown-ups. But a little preplanning and consistent sleep habits can get the whole family through with a minimum of disruption and grumpiness.
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