Just when you get settled in your new school year schedule, along comes Daylight Savings Time to throw a wrench in bedtimes!  By preparing as the time approaches, you can be ready at 2 am on November 6, 2022 when you “fall back” an hour.

Daylight Saving Time (DST) is a system to reduce electricity usage by extending daylight hours. For eight months out of the year, the US and dozens of other countries follow DST, and for the remaining four months, revert back to standard time in order to take full advantage of the sunlight.

While a one-hour time change may not seem like a big deal, it can take some getting used to at bedtime.

The fall time change can cause younger children to crash before bedtime and wake up earlier than usual in the morning. In spring, getting them in bed at night—or out of it in the morning—can be a challenge.

“Falling back” for the time change can be easier on teens. As puberty kicks in, they tend to start falling asleep later, anyway, as hormones shift a child’s “circadian rhythm” or internal clock by an hour or two. But losing an hour of sleep in March when we “spring forward” can take a toll on teens, leaving them sleepier during the day.

Here are some suggestions to mitigate the change:

Keep it consistent. A good bedtime routine should start at about the same time and follow the same steps every night.

Limiting screen time before bed. Blue light from phones, computers, tablets, TV, and even nightlights can trick the brain into thinking that it’s daytime. Have your child put all screens away at least an hour before bedtime and charge them outside their bedroom. This way, they won’t be tempted to check text messages or social media posts.

Having set nighttime routines. This lets your child’s body know that it’s time to unwind and go to sleep. For younger kids, having a brush, book bed routine, cuddling, or listening to quiet music.

Getting enough exercise during the day can help kids sleep better, too. Just avoid too much physical activity close to bedtime, which can make it hard to unwind. Choose quiet activities like stretching or yoga later in the day.

Spending some time outside and being exposed to natural light during the day can help reset your child’s internal clock after a time change. Sunlight has a strong effect on the body’s circadian rhythm. On the Sunday of time change, get ative with your kids with lots of outdoor play.

Relaxing activities in the evenings help support a healthy sleep cycle. Examples include a warm bath with Epsom salts, reading a book that’s not on a screen, meditation, soft music, or writing in a journal.

Shift their schedule.  Start a few days in advance and slowly work it so that bedtime doesn’t change when the time change comes (15-minute increments work best.)

Buy blackout curtains.  Keep the bright sunlight from causing a problem.

For teens, you can change the clocks ahead of time, on Friday evening, so they adjust over the weekend.  Just be sure you are on top of the actual time for activities like sports and church.  Also, waking them up early, instead of letting them sleep in on the change weekend can help reset their internal clocks.  Another great piece of advice is to have them unplug from technology 30 minutes before bedtime during this weekend.

Adults can help their adjustment by eating a lighter dinnertime meal earlier in the evening during the weekend of the change.  Also, keeping busy with physical activity can help you fall asleep at the right time.  Take a walk or start a project that keeps you engaged.

A little advance planning can lead you to fall back without pain, and minimize a grumpy family.

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