Get Your Kids Ready for Daylight Saving Time by Following These Simple Tips

You can more easily reset kids' internal clocks by easing them into the time change on March 11

Get Your Kids Ready for Daylight Saving Time by Following These Simple Tips
Image: Pixabay
February 28, 2018

Most of your digital clocks will automatically change when Daylight Saving Time (DST) kicks in on March 11, but your child's internal clock won't make the change so easily—unless you prepare them beforehand.

It Can Take 10 Days for Kids to Adjust to Daylight Saving Time

According to the Pediatric Sleep Council, it can take up to 10 days for kids to fully reset their internal clocks to adjust to Daylight Saving Time. This is because the brain signals that tell the child's body when it is time to begin and end the day change based on the amount of sunlight at a given time of day.

In a survey conducted by the Better Sleep Council (BSC), 94 percent of parents estimated that getting their children back into their normal sleeping patterns takes two or more days after Daylight Saving Time begins. The adjustment takes six days or more for 31 percent of parents.

Given these statistics, it is not surprising that 28 percent of surveyed parents do not like setting their clocks ahead by an hour for Daylight Saving Time. However, preparing early can make the change easier and shorter for everyone.

Make Gradual Sleep Schedule Changes

According to pediatric sleep expert Dr. Jodi Mindell, shifting bedtimes earlier by a few minutes every day leading up to the time change will enable parents to avoid meltdowns at bedtime on Saturday, March 10 and in the morning on Sunday, March 11.

"If possible, making slower changes can be beneficial," she says. "Start on Thursday night, shifting bedtime earlier by 15 minutes every day. Or, start on Saturday night shifting 30 minutes earlier."

The BSC adds that it may also help to add on an extra step or two to the child's bedtime routine. A warm bath or shower or reading a book together can help them relax in the hour before bedtime.

Parents: Use Light to Your Advantage

In addition, parents should not let kids eat heavy meals close to bedtime, as doing so can interfere with sleep quality. And once the time changes, it is necessary to adjust everyone's routines to the new time, even if kids have to wake up earlier than normal.

Dr. Mindell suggests that parents use light to their advantage when the time changes.

"Because children's internal clocks are affected by light and dark, parents should be sure to turn on the lights and open the blinds to let in as much natural light as possible in the morning," she said, "This signals to the child's body that it's time to start the day."