Daylight saving time arrived this weekend, and many families are still feeling its effect on their sleep schedules. With this lost hour, many parents are wondering how to adjust their child’s schedule without losing any more good nights’ rest.
We spoke with Daniel Lewin, Ph.D, DABSM, the associate director of sleep medicine at Children’s National Hospital, to get tips on how to combat daylight saving time’s impact on children’s sleep.
Stick with a Bedtime Routine
Dr. Lewin recommends that a bedtime routine is key for young children. “A routine helps create a powerful signal for sleep,” explains Dr. Lewin. A bedtime routine is even more important when there are changes in a child’s environment. Now that daylight saving time is here, maintaining a structured bedtime routine can make a huge difference in the way your child reacts to the new time change.
Daylight saving time tends to throw off the body’s internal circadian clock. To help, Dr. Lewin recommends dimming your child’s bedroom lights and turning off electronics 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime. He also suggests increasing the amount of light in the morning to help your child wake up. “Amplify bright light in the morning, particularly during the dark morning hours, to help wake the body up,” says Lewin.
“The time change can cause changes in your child’s mood,” says Lewin. Try to be more forgiving if your child is throwing extra temper tantrums in the days following daylight saving time. “I encourage all parents to be understanding and be supportive to help their child adjust a little better,” Dr. Lewin says
Daniel S. Lewin, Ph.D, DABSM, is a pediatric psychologist, sleep specialist and licensed clinical psychologist. He is board-certified in sleep medicine and behavioral sleep medicine and is the associate director of the Pediatric Sleep Medicine, as well as director of the Pulmonary Behavioral Medicine Program, at Children’s National. He is also an assistant professor of pediatrics at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences.
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