Help Your Child Sleep Through The Time Change

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Prevent Your Child from Sleep Loss daylight savings

Photo by Summer

By: Gary Feldman, M.D., medical director, Stramski Children’s Developmental Center at Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach

Turning the clocks ahead is an exciting time, it means we gain an extra hour of light in the evening, it marks the beginning of many baseball games and picnics and it results in a loss of a coveted hour of sleep. While it’s an exciting time, this annual “spring forward” can cause disruptions in normal sleep patterns for children and even sometimes parents.

It is not uncommon for children to experience sleep disruptions with Daylight Savings Time. The most important factors in children getting adequate sleep is setting a bed time and routine and sticking to it. Daylight Savings Time naturally disrupts any set patterns parents have established.

Many parents will say if getting children into a good sleep routine wasn’t hard enough, the beginning of daylight savings can add an extra element to the challenge of getting your kids to bed each night. Children fall asleep more easily if they are adjusted to going to bed at the same time each night. During the daylight saving switch, your child may still be going to sleep at 7 p.m., but their bodies don’t feel like it’s 7 p.m. so they may not feel tired and tell you that.

Routine is key – maintain your child’s regular sleep, wake and nap times. It may take toddlers and older children a little longer to assume a new sleep routine. Your child will adjust to the time change within a few days to a week. But there are steps parents can take to minimize sleep loss and ease the transition, to enjoy the benefits of healthy sleep and productive days.

Here are a few tips that will help you get your child to sleep:

  • Make gradual adjustments to bedtime schedule
  • Change the clocks on Saturday afternoon, instead of Sunday
  • Ensure your child’s room is dark
  • Don’t compensate for the lost hour
  • Don’t try to wear your child out to get them to fall asleep earlier
  • If your child keeps waking up too early, remind them that it’s not time to start the day yet or encourage a quiet activity
  • Be patient

Daylight Savings Time marks the end of National Sleep Awareness Week
(March 7 – 13) an annual campaign promoting the importance of sleep. The week caps off with the Daylight Savings Time change on Sunday, March 13, 2011, when we set the clocks forward one hour, resulting in a one hour loss of sleep.

The Pediatric Sleep Disorders Center at Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach is one of the only accredited children’s sleep disorders programs in Southern California. To schedule and appointment, call us at (562) 728-5034.

Visit us at millerchildrens.org/sleep.

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