On Sunday, November 5th at 2 a.m., Daylight Saving Time ends. That means it’s time to set your clock back an hour, a concept that is hardly problematic and even means gaining a little extra shut-eye for some people. For moms and dads, however, it’s a completely different story.
Time change can have a drastic impact on children, especially young children who easily become overtired. More than just cranky moods or unpredictable temper tantrums, restlessness can drive habit-creating challenges that impede upon learning, impact social interaction at school, and slow down the routine at home and at bedtime.
At American Montessori Academy, we want to help parents prepare for Daylight Saving Time and avoid issues that can come with just one hour of change. Consider the following tips to get ahead before we fall back:
- Take Baby Steps: Don’t just set the clock back and expect your child to be in sync; remember that it takes some time to adapt. To prepare, gradually delay your child’s bedtime by about 15-minutes every day. For example, if your child goes to bed at 8 p.m., about four days before the time change, put them to bed at 8:15 p.m., then 8:30 p.m., and so on until they are going to bed as close to 9 p.m. as possible. Try to wake them a little later, as well.
- Stick to a Routine: When Daylight Saving Time ends (or begins in the spring), it is important to stick with a bedtime routine. This creates a signal for sleep. It should be repeated nightly and never rushed, especially when dealing with a schedule change that can throw them off.
- Control the Lights: The body’s internal circadian clock is regulated with the help of a hormone called Melatonin. As it becomes dark in the evening, it increases and helps induce sleep. It shuts down when it’s light out, which increases wakefulness and alertness. To prepare for the time change, make sure your child has some light exposure in the early evening and ensure that their room isn’t too bright in the morning, especially after the shift when you’ll see more morning sunlight than you’ve been seeing these last couple months.
- Get Enough Sleep Now: Remember, the younger the child, the easier it is to become overtired — which can make falling asleep even harder. Go into Daylight Saving Time well-rested (and that means you too, mom and dad). A well-rested person will best adapt to the time change.
When Daylight Saving Time begins in the spring, this approach will also help and can prevent things like night wakings, early wake-ups and shorter naps. Follow the same guidelines, just push the wake-up time and bedtime a little earlier rather than later.