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Adjust to Daylight Savings Time

4 tips to help kids - and their parents - adjust to the end of Daylight Savings Time

October 26, 2018     By Author - Dr. Heidi Johnson / Boys Town Pediatrics

Bedtime, Behavior, Sleep

This article first appeared on on Oct. 23, 2018.

As you and your family prepare to "fall back" on Nov. 4 , make sure you're prepared to make the transition as easy as possible. There are several tips and tricks to ensure that added hour doesn't result in a completely messed up sleep schedule.

  • 1. Gradually shift bedtime. Before Daylight Savings Time ends on Nov. 4 — ideally, start one week ahead depending on how sensitive your child is to adjustments to their sleep — push your child's bedtime 10 to 15 minutes later every two days. This applies to naps, too. So if your child usually goes to bed at 8 p.m., tuck him or her into bed around 8:15 on Oct. 28. Then bump it up to 8:30 p.m. on Monday, 8:45 p.m. on Wednesday and 9 p.m. on Friday. By Sunday, your little one will be used to going to bed at the new time — now 8 p.m. Of course, if your child isn't sensitive to any change in their sleep schedule, you might not have to do anything at all. Don't forget to shut off electronics and the TV 30 minutes before bedtime, and use small lamps instead of the main bedroom light to help with falling asleep.
  • 2. Control light exposure. Because the sun will rise earlier in the morning after the time change, make sure to keep your child's room as dark as possible by using blackout curtains. This will help your child sleep in until their normal wake-up time. Along those same lines, make sure to expose your kids to as much sunlight as possible during the day, particularly in the morning. After all, sunshine plays a huge part in the body's circadian rhythm — since it halts the production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates our sleep and wake cycle. So get out there and play in the gorgeous fall weather. Leaf pile, anyone?
  • 3. Stick to a routine. An adjusted bedtime may throw your child off enough, so make sure you create and stick to a routine at night. A consistent system before bed sends a powerful signal for sleeping time and may help your child fall asleep sooner and stay asleep longer.
  • 4. Be flexible with internal clocks and sympathetic with behavior. Even with all the preparation you do, understand your child still might have a hard time adjusting to the new time. Some kids don't have a flexible clock and may fight the time change — regardless of what you do ahead of time. This may cause some behavioral changes, but they will more than likely only last a week or so.

Good luck!

Dr. Heidi Johnson is a pediatrician at the Boys Town Pediatrics' Harrison Street Clinic, 6715 S. 180th St. in Omaha Nebraska. To read more about Dr. Johnson, click here

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