Don’t Let Daylight Saving Time Disrupt Your Child’s Sleep

Parents and their children may feel a bit more tired come March 8 at 2:00AM. When they set their clocks forward one hour for Daylight Saving Time. That’s because when you wake up that day—one hour earlier—you will have already lost one hour of sleep.

That’s why parents should start thinking about “sleep hygiene” for their kids and teens this week, says Dr. Sanjeev Kothare, director of NYU Langone’s Pediatric Sleep Disorders Program.

“Maintaining a normal sleep schedule is vital to the success of many children and adolescents who need sufficient sleep each night to perform at their highest levels,” Kothare says.

Dr. Kothare’s sleep tips for Daylight Saving Time include:

  • Gradually move sleep times earlier each night. In the week before Daylight Saving Time begins, gradually, push up children’s and teens’ bedtimes 15 minutes earlier every two days. Also, try this in the morning, and wake up 15 minutes earlier every two days. In one week, you’ll have adjusted to the time lost by Daylight Saving Time.
  • Get sunlight. Even though it’s winter, you should still try to get as much sunlight as possible in the morning. Early morning sunlight establishes our circadian rhythms, or sleep cycles. Even a sunny room helps.
  • Avoid naps. Try to skip naps around Daylight Saving Time. Your children will sleep better throughout the night, and fall asleep more easily.
  • Limit caffeine. Caffeine stays in the body for 8 to 10 hours, so parents should limit intake in the afternoon, especially after 3:00PM.
  • Power down devices. The blue light found in televisions, iPads, computer screens, smartphones, and video games keeps brain activity high, which can be detrimental to falling asleep. Limit your child’s use of these electronics a few hours before bedtime. Instead, try to unwind by dimming the lights and relaxing with a book in bed.
  • Stay on a sleep schedule through the weekend. Don’t go way off track on the weekends, or it will be tougher to fall asleep on Sunday night, which could lead to a disturbed sleep cycle.

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