This weekend, we set our clocks back an hour due to daylight saving time. If a parent hasn’t done anything about adjusting a child’s sleep schedule in anticipation of the change, is it too late?
“No worries,” says Rebecca Kammerer, a pediatric sleep coach who owns Sleep Cadets in Garden City. Adjusting to the “fall back” Saturday is much easier than adjusting to the “spring forward” each March, she says. That’s because we gain an hour instead of losing one.
“Let your children think you’re super cool by letting them stay up an hour later on Saturday night,” says Kammerer. If the usual bedtime of your school-age children is 8 p.m., for instance, put them to bed at 9 p.m. When you set your clocks backward at 2 on Sunday morning, they’ll have slept for the correct number of hours when you wake them up at their “usual” time on Sunday. Then, return to the 8 o’clock bedtime Sunday night. Mission accomplished, Kammerer says.
If you think they’ll need more time to adjust, start Wednesday putting them to bed 15 minutes later. Put them to bed at 8:15 p.m. Wednesday, 8:30 p.m. Thursday, 8:45 p.m. Friday and 9 p.m. Saturday, but still wake them up at their usual time each morning. It’s OK that they lose a few minutes of sleep for those few days, Kammerer says. “With time, everybody will be back on schedule,” she says. Return to their usual 8 p.m. bedtime Sunday.
The time change may make waking up for school easier, incidentally, because it will be lighter in the early morning. Waking up for school when it’s still dark outside makes it tougher to get out of bed, Kammerer says. And not just for the kids — for parents, too.