The switch to daylight saving time (DST) in the spring is a difficult transition for everyone. Because of their heightened sleep needs and sensitivity to changes in their schedule, kids may have the hardest time adjusting. With a little preparation and the right mindset, you can make this yearly change easier on yourself and your kids.
When the clock jumps forward an hour every March, kids feel cranky when waking up an hour earlier than normal. It will also likely be darker outside when they wake up after the time change. Invest in a small full-spectrum sun lamp and set it up at your breakfast table. The stimulation from the light may help kids wake up faster and feel more alert. Similarly, your kids may not feel tired at their usual bedtime or may have a hard time going to sleep if there is now sunlight while they’re trying to wind down for the day. Install blackout shades in their room and complete their bedtime routine in the darkened space. Avoiding exposure to sunlight right before bed will help your kids feel sleepy and restores a sense of normalcy to bedtime.
Shift Back Bedtimes
A week before the time shift, begin to prepare your children for their earlier schedule by gradually pushing back their sleep and wake times. Adjust their bedtime to an earlier hour in 15-minute increments throughout the week. Adjusting to small changes in their routine is easier for kids than having to change their sleep schedule by a whole hour all at once.
As a parent, it can be helpful to accept that DST requires an adjustment period for both kids and adults. Give your kids and yourself some extra time in the mornings throughout the first week of the change. Understand that your kids’ moods may be impacted by the changes to their sleep schedule, so plan for plenty of downtime and relaxing activities. These simple changes to your child’s environment and your own expectations can take the dread out of DST so that you can actually enjoy the extra light.