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Falling Back: Helping Your Child Adjust To The Time Change

November 5, 2021 4:28 pm

Most people look forward to the fall time change allowing them to get an additional hour of sleep. While it is definitely preferable to “Spring Ahead”, for parents it can be a different story, as it can be confusing for their children. Fortunately, there are ways you can help your child adjust to the time change.

So What’s The Problem?

Kids are creatures of habit. Just when parents have gotten them adjusted to Daylight Savings time, now their sleep patterns need to change again. So when you try to enjoy that extra hour of sleep on those cool Fall mornings, the kids wake up early making it hard for you to stay in bed.

Fall Back Daylight Saving Time concept with white clock and autumn leaves

Just as you made some simple changes last spring, you can do similar things now to ease them into their winter schedule.

Before you end up with cranky kids, take some action now to help them adjust.

Keep To The Normal Bedtime Routine With One Difference

Have your child perform all the routine nightly steps to get them ready to sleep, but just give them an extra 15 minutes before they begin. Your child will still get the benefit of the slow down routine, but just a little later. Add on a few more minutes the next night, but never go beyond 25 minutes. They won’t realize what is happening, and they will just fall into the sleep pattern like normal.

Don’t Allow Weekend Changes

You will immediately lose any progress you have made by letting them sleep in later on the weekends. Try to keep the timeframe consistent no matter the day of the week.

Fall Back With All Activities

Once the clocks change, delay giving them breakfast even if they are awake. Let them watch TV or play a game. If they are small enough to take naps, alter that time as well. Dinner should work the same. By sliding everything back about an hour, they may adjust more quickly.

Keep Their Bedroom In Sleep Mode

Be sure the temperature is right for sleepiness, between 65 and 72 degrees. Keep the room dark by closing all curtains and blinds and don’t re-open until it’s time to get up.

Use The Body’s Natural Melatonin Schedule

Give your children lots of daylight during the daytime, and then make things dark and darker as they prepare for bed.

Be A Tyrant About Devices

Of course, remove all cellphones, tablets, and other devices prior to bedtime. This should hold for both summer and winter. The mental disruption and light from these devices affects sleep patterns for us all.

Contact the Pediatric and Adolescent Sleep Center at (703) 226-2290 if your child continues to have sleep issues.

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