Daylight Savings Time affects everyone, as the clocks spring forward and take that sweet extra hour of sleep away from us — but children are perhaps the most affected by the change. Developing a sleep routine is critical for parents and their kids, so to get some expert tips on how to prepare for losing that precious hour of sleep, we spoke with Dr. Lisa J. Meltzer, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at National Jewish Health and Sleep Education Fellow for the National Sleep Foundation.
Daylight Savings may start this weekend, but it's not too late to start prepping your family. Read through for three things to start doing immediately in preparation for the clocks springing forward, and to continue doing throughout the year to develop sleep routines that result in healthy, happy, and well-rested kids.
1. Shift bedtimes by a few minutes every day to prep for losing an hour.
When the time changes, our internal clocks — which run on about a 24.2 hour day — can adjust; it just takes a few days. By bumping your child's bedtime routine up 10-15 minutes each night leading up to the clock shift, you help your child's body adjust its internal clock, which is usually kept in check by consistent sleep schedules and routines. If you don't want grumpy kiddos waking up with one hour less of sleep Monday morning, start shifting their routines now so that the change doesn't occur all at once!
2. Keep your child's room cool, dark, comfortable – and tech-free!
This is important all year long, but especially in the nights leading up to — and after — Daylight Savings. To ensure that your child can adjust to their bedtime being shifted (rather than just putting them into bed and them laying there for the extra allotted time), provide them with an ideal sleeping environment.
Their room should be cool, their bed should be comfortable, shades should be pulled — especially as the days stretch and stay lighter longer — and if they're old enough to be tech junkies, the room should be tech-free. Dr. Meltzer says the fact that technology is engaging the brain and that gadgets emit bright lights makes them a no-no before bedtime.
3. Make sure they're ready to sleep on Saturday and Sunday night by planning active days.
The more tired your little ones are before they go to sleep both nights this weekend, the easier it will be for them to not only fall asleep, but to get a good, deep sleep leading up to getting back to your weekly routine. Exposing children (even babies) to natural light in the mornings leading up to that dreaded Monday after the clocks change will help push their internal clock toward their new wake time.