Daylight Savings Time…It is here again. This idea was proposed long ago when the thought was that if we changed the clocks back an hour, and it would be darker earlier, people would go to sleep earlier and it would save energy (eg, burning of candles for light, using electricity, etc). For something that may be beneficial for the world’s resources, wreaks havoc on your family, namely your kids, especially since this is the harder of the two time changes. So, what can we do about it?
Ideally you want to start the adjustment process for your child a couple of weeks before the time change. But you can also do it several days before, if you are just thinking about it now. So, before the time change, move the schedule 20 minutes in the direction it needs to go. Get them up in the morning 20 minutes later, put them down 20 minutes later. Each day moving the schedule by 20 minutes at each wake time/bedtime. If the schedule is adjusted by 20 minutes, you can make up the hour in 3 days.
Also, since circadian rhythms are impacted by light exposure, bright light exposure (eg. sunlight) first thing in the morning helps shift your child’s internal clock up for an earlier bedtime. Bright light exposure in the late afternoon/early evening will help shift their clock later. This helps them fall asleep at fall DST and sets them up to successfully sleep in until the new DST morning time.
Meaning if your child previously started the day at 6:00 AM, there is a risk that DST will result in him waking up at 5:00 AM clock time (6:00 AM body time). Early evening bright light exposure is your most powerful weapon to help avoid this common early morning dilemma.
You only need to do the light exposure for 1-2 days because continuing beyond that could result in your child being unable to fall asleep at bedtime (as you’ve pushed their clock out too late). But definitely get outside and soak up some sunlight on the Saturday/Sunday of Daylight Savings weekend.
If it is going to be rainy and gloomy, as it will be here in NOLA, use indoor artificial light as a substitute.
You could use this same principle if your child is waking earlier than you want, or you just want to shift the schedule in either direction, these ideas can be applied to make the transition smoother. Time changes are a task, but it works out in the end…until the next time change.
When the time change arrives, (November 1st, at 2am) move your clocks back one hour (FALL BACK, SPRING FORWARD) so that what used to be 7am becomes 6am.