Daylight Savings: The Art and Science of Sleepy Time

Kids wont simply go to sleep because they are put to bed…

Parent watching baby sleep

Well, it’s the week of Daylight Savings time and for some of us that means we start to get out of bed one hour earlier and to go to bed 1 hour earlier (hopefully). But what is the impact to the sleeping routine we have with our children?

Usually disruptive, since not unlike their parents, children’s bodies get used to sleeping at certain times, and when the clock changes it takes some time to get used to the new cycle.

A time change of even only one hour can affect your kid’s circadian rhythm and therefore his sleep schedule, for a few days. “Circadian rhythms allow us to stay awake during the day and to sleep at night,” says Psychologist and Sleep Disorders Expert William David Brown, Ph.D., with Children’s Medical Center (2).

In general, it would be safe to say that a great deal of the disconnect between the time our kids feel like sleeping and the times we want them to, is driven by our need to impose our own daily/nightly schedule on them. Oh, and there's also a ‘forbidden zone,’ - a time when sleep is almost impossible. “If you’re putting your toddler to bed during that forbidden zone, she won’t be able to sleep,” says Dr. Brown (2).

Selecting a bedtime for your toddler that does not match his or her internal body clock, can contribute to difficulties in getting him/her to fall asleep at night, according to a new University of Colorado Boulder study (1). “The study pinpointed the time when the hormone melatonin increased in the evening, indicating the start of the biological night” (1). A mismatch between bedtimes and the rise in the children’s evening melatonin production “increases their likelihood of nighttime settling difficulties" (1). According to the study, about 25 percent of toddlers and preschoolers have problems settling after bedtime (1).

The good news is, even though it’s likely that people are genetically predisposed to be “night owls” or “morning people,” circadian rhythms can be changed (2).

Here are a few common sense tips to accomplish just that:

  1. Adjust bedtime incrementally. If you're putting your toddler to sleep one hour or more before he’s ready to sleep you're going to face challenges. Delay your child's bedtime to match his rhythm, at the beginning. Then move it up 15- 20 minutes each time until you reach the desired bedtime (2).
  1. Don't try to wear your child out hoping to get him to sleep earlier - overtired children often actually take longer to fall asleep and may even resist sleep completely (3).
  1. Manage the lighting. Plan to turn off all television, computers (blue light), and other electronic devices at least 90 minutes before bedtime. Try to use night lights or lamps instead of overhead lights (2). Also, after the clock change, you could use room-darkening curtains in so your baby can’t see how light it is outside (4).
  1. Keep your child on a regular sleep schedule. For instance, don’t let your toddler stay up late on weekends, hoping that the child will sleep late in the morning (2).

 

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References

(1) University of Colorado at Boulder reprinted by Sciencedaily.com, “Bedtime for toddlers: Timing is everything”, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131216155000.htm

(2) Childrens.com, Dr. William David Brown, Ph.D., “4 Secrets to Adjusting Your Toddler's Circadian Rhythm”, https://www.childrens.com/keeping-families-healthy/family-blog/category/health-topics/4-secrets-to-adjusting-your-toddlers-circadian-rhythm

(3) Kidspot.com, Ella Walsh, “Daylight savings and your child's sleep routine”,

http://www.kidspot.com.au/Toddler-Sleep-Daylight-savings-and-your-childs-sleep-routine+1966+24+article.htm

(4)Thebump.com, “How To Help Baby With The Time Change”, http://www.thebump.com/a/baby-time-change,

 


Jorge Gallego
Jorge Gallego

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1 Response

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