Daylight Savings - Tips For You and Your Children

First, let’s talk about Daylight Savings and our children…

This can be a bittersweet time for parents. While looking forward to the extra daylight time you are probably worried about how this will affect your kids’ sleep schedule. You are not alone! So many parents are in a love-hate relationship with this bi-yearly transition.

You will be turning your clock ahead this Sunday, March 13th at 2am in Canada and the U.S. If you’re in the U.K. then March 27th at 1am is when you will be making this change.

The good news is that if your child is an early bird you’re in luck as 6am now becomes 7am, 7am now becomes 8am… you get the idea. It won’t take long though for their body to adjust so enjoy this while it lasts.

If your little one still naps this can be a challenge. You may want to consider splitting the difference for a few days by adjusting the nap time by 20 – 30 minutes until you can get it back to where you want it. I know, easier said than done, right? We all know how schedule disruptions can wreak havoc, but stick with it and in a few days your kiddo will be sawing logs right on schedule again.

Our bodies work around light and dark, signalling our internal clock, which can be used to help with the transition of daylight savings. Darkness triggers melatonin production so it is a good idea to have light- blocking shades in your child’s room and to spend some time in there before sleep time; quietly reading, nursing, or cuddling.

This transition can be a tough one for both of you (see below for tips for YOU). Try to be patient with the kids as they learn to adjust to the new schedule. Like always, if it stresses you out, it will stress them out. Keep in mind that it is just a transitional phase and things will be back to normal soon!

What about me??

Good question! Daylight Savings doesn’t just affect our children…

It has been shown that how time change affects individuals is directly correlated to one’s own personal health, sleep habits and lifestyle.

Michael J. Thorpy, MD, Director of Sleep-Wake Disorders Center at the Montefiore Medical Center suggests to following steps to help prepare your body for the time change:a)

  • Skip napping: Avoid taking them if you can and if you must try to limit napping to a maximum of 20 minutes. This time frame will serve to refresh however not impede sleep later.
  • Unplug: The light generated from electronics & energy-efficient light bulbs (blue light) has a powerful effect on your “inner clock”. Turn off your TV, phone, tablet & dim the lights at least one hour before you retire for the evening.
  • Get up if you can’t sleep: If you are still awake 20 minutes after going to bed, get up and do something relaxing instead of tossing and turning or staring at the ceiling. This curtails training your brain to stay awake night after night.
  • Routine: Try as much as possible to wake up at the same time everyday. While you can’t necessarily control when you fall asleep, you can control when to start your day. Having a regular morning routine will set the tone for your body for the whole day.
  • Practice good bedtime habits: If you are sensitive to noise and light, wear earplugs and a mask, keep the room cool between 67 – 68 degrees & avoid or restrict caffeine intake after lunchtime.

Finally, as with all aspects of our health, diet plays a major role. By reducing the amount of simple carbs and increasing the amount of non-refined complex carbs in your diet, you can dramatically improve the quality and quantity of your sleep.

If you have problems getting to sleep or staying asleep at night, the National Sleep Foundation says that eating your last meal or snack at least two to three hours before bedtime may help. Rather than go to bed hungry, the Mayo Clinic recommends consuming snacks that include a carbohydrate such as oatmeal or yogurt with granola. Foods that combine complex carbohydrates and protein, such a lentil or chickpea-based snack foods may even help you sleep. Carbohydrates help deliver the amino acid tryptophan, which has a soporific effect to your brain.

So there you have it – tips for both you and your children to deal with time change successfully. If you have any tried and true methods to share, don’t be shy!