You can reset kids' internal clocks more easily by easing them into it ahead of time
Most of your digital clocks will automatically change when Daylight Saving Time (DST) kicks in, but your child's internal clock won't make the change so easily—unless you prepare them beforehand.
According to the Pediatric Sleep Council, it can take up to 10 days for kids to fully reset their internal clocks to adjust to DST. This is because the signals telling the child's body when it's time to begin and end the day change with the times of day with certain amounts of light.
In a survey conducted by the Better Sleep Council (BSC) recently, 94 percent of parents estimated that getting their children back into their normal sleeping patterns takes two or more days. The adjustment takes six days or more for 31 percent of parents.
Given these statistics, it is unsurprising that 28 percent of all parents do not like to set their clocks ahead by an hour for DST. However, preparing early can make the change easier and shorter for everyone.
Make Gradual 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 March 12 and in the morning on March 13.
"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.
Adjust the New Time
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 offered a suggestion for parents to 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."