Daylight Saving Time 2016 is ending, and while many people are looking forward to an extra hour of sleep, parents with young kids are likely desperate for tips on how to help their children adjust to the new time.
The annual change of the clocks comes to an end in the early morning hours on Sunday, November 6, with clocks falling back one hour. While gaining an hour of sleep may be easier for people to handle than in the spring when they lose an hour, it still throws a wrench in the sleep cycle of kids so young that the concept of time is meaningless to them.
And for many kids, the change in clocks may mean sleep schedules thrown off for a week or more until they finally adjust. Luckily, there are plenty of tips on how to help kids survive Daylight Saving Time ending and keep their sleep schedule (mostly) intact.
One of the best tips for adjusting sleep schedules after Daylight Saving Time ends comes from Baby Sleep Site, which recommends gradually getting them used to the new time. While this works best if you start it a few days ahead of time, it will also work if you start it on Sunday after the fall-back.
“To prevent the time change from destroying your family’s sleep, you can work to gradually adjust your baby’s schedule forward by degrees, until she’s close to waking about an hour later than usual. Move the schedule (wake-up, naps, and bedtime) forward by 10-15 minutes every day or two. For example, if your baby usually wakes at 6 a.m., and you’d like to keep it that way, work towards having her get up closer to 7 a.m. (and shift everything else ahead, too); that way, after the time change, she’ll be waking around 6 again and everything else in her schedule should adjust accordingly as well.”
Other tips for adjusting kids to the end of Daylight Saving Time 2016 are focused on helping the parents first. A number of experts noted that parents have to make sure they’re well adjusted in order to help focus on their kids, and the Better Sleep Council had some general tips for adults in keeping their own sleep schedules.
The site noted that adults should avoid caffeine and other stimulants before bed, and avoiding meals and workouts too close to bedtime.
“Even moderate exercise, such as walking, can help you sleep better,” the council noted. “Just make sure you don’t work out within two hours of bedtime.”
And for parents hoping to make up the difference by sending their kids to bed late on Saturday, experts say to avoid that temptation.
“The biggest thing I would suggest is don’t put your baby or your child to bed later on Saturday night in hopes that they’ll sleep in because that just won’t happen,” sleep consultant Carrie Bruno told Global News. “Putting your baby to bed later actually makes them usually wake up earlier because they’re overtired.”
Bruno even put together a guide to how parents should adjust their children’s internal clock after the Daylight Saving Time ends. She recommends adjusting nap and bed times back 30 minutes for the first three days of the week and then shifting back to the normal time on Wednesday. Bruno’s full guide can be seen here.
But even with all the tips to help adjust sleep schedules for kids and babies after Daylight Saving Time ends, parents will still need a bit of leeway. Daniel Lewin, Ph.D., associate director of sleep medicine at Children’s National Health System in Washington, D.C, told Parents Magazine that either time change — backward of forward — can lead to short-term changes in a child’s mood. So if they have more temper tantrums or difficulties adjusting after the clocks change, remember to be patient.
[Featured Image by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images]