Moving the clocks in either direction is all the rage among parents the week leading up to it, everyone sharing ideas on how they will cope. Some are over the moon about Spring Forward as they have early risers who will now sleep in an extra hour. Others whose kids have naturally later bedtimes are completely dreading it as bedtime will be pushed an hour later and morning will be IMPOSSIBLE!
I ran a home daycare for two years and I was so worried leading into time change Mondays. Five kids to keep happy and well-fed, and all to nap (at the same time!?!) was a feat on a good day. And guess what? It always just worked itself out pretty quickly! Kids are incredibly resilient and within a week things settled back into shape without as many hiccups or glitches as I always anticipated.
That said, some of us are planners and like to take as much control into our hands as possible so let’s look at what can be done to ease the pain.
1) SHIFT LIGHT EXPOSURE – light exposure (both natural daylight and artificial light) is one of the main factors governing our sleep cycles.
So? Expose the kids to light earlier in the day and dim the lights earlier in the evening to gently nudge the internal clock.
If you have the luxury of adjusting life gradually, make the changes in small increments of 15 or so minutes per day. If you don’t have the luxury of adjusting gradually next week, consider starting NOW in advance.
2) BE ACTIVE – for those kiddos who you are sure will go to bed at 10pm next week be sure to get some great activity out of them and even better, outside in the fresh air! Tucker them out well before bedtime (being sure to wrap up rowdy activity an hour before sleep time) and you may notice the time change shock may not be as noticeable as you feared.
3) REMEMBER NUTRITION – running late in the mornings resulting in not as healthy breakfasts on the go may lead to a double whammy next week – so to help save sleep try to stay on top of healthy nutrition and hydration going into next week too!
4) LIMIT SCREEN TIME – for trying to tame the late bedtime shifting even later, avoid any screen time for at least two hours leading up to bedtime.
This all seems simple I suppose. All of the wonderful things that help keep healthy sleep habits all year long, but they become even more important around times of change. Sometimes we get too worked up about how bad it is going to be, when instead we could focus that energy on the low-hanging fruit and the things we can easily control.
Please also remember that there is always the wonderful option of DOING NOTHING and going with the flow and just setting yourself up to be more flexible next week if possible. We will all adjust within a few days and within a week you won’t even notice the change.
Let’s also remember that the whole point of daylight saving time is to increase our natural daylight in the evening and reduce energy usage. Just picture that extra hour of sun after work, and playing outside enjoying it with your kids.
Let’s look on the bright side, this means spring is on its way!!
Good luck and never hesitate to contact me with any questions about your child’s sleep.