Your Kid's Sleep and Daylight Saving Time

A child asleep in the car on the way to soccer practice.
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In the United States, daylight saving times begins in the spring when people in most parts of the country move their clocks forward an hour. The practice effectively takes an hour of daylight from the morning and adds it to the evening.

The United States isn't the only country that moves the clocks ahead: 70 other countries also observe daylight saving time, though they begin and end the practice at different times.

Most parents welcome the start of daylight saving time because it means their kids can spend more time playing outside after school and in the evening.

That said, the transition can be confusing for everyone. Here are some ways you can help your whole family adjust to the time change.

Start of Daylight Saving Time: Spring Forward

The main downside to "springing forward" is that it can interfere with your child's sleep schedules. While adults usually adapt quickly new sleep and wake times, it can be more difficult for younger children.

If you have an infant that is an early riser, the shift forward can actually be helpful for babies and parents who are fatigued by 5 am wake up times.

When the clocks are moved ahead, kids who were used to going to bed when it was dark at 7 or 8 pm need to transition to going to bed at 6 or 7 pm when it may still be light outside.

End of Daylight Saving Time: Fall Back

Daylight saving times ends in late fall when people in most parts of the United States turn the clocks back an hour.

Many people find the end to daylight saving time to be less useful than the start; moving the clocks back an hour means an hour less of daylight.

After moving the clocks back, kids who were used to going to bed when it was dark at 8 pm and waking up at 7 am may be ready to go to bed at 7 pm. While an earlier bedtime might not be a problem, parents should keep in mind this might also mean they'll want to get up an hour earlier in the morning.

Younger children's sleep schedules are more tied to their internal clocks than older kids and adults. They are more likely to sleep when feel tired or when they're used to going to bed rather than according to what the clock says.

Prepare Your Family

The usual recommendation to get ready for the start of daylight saving time is to gradually get your child used to a new bedtime. Here are a few tips and tricks to help you make the transition easier on everyone.

Adjust Gradually

You can try putting your child to bed five to 15 minutes earlier every few days leading up to the start of daylight savings time. By the time you move the clock forward an hour, your child will already be used to going to bed at an "earlier" time.

If you didn't make a gradual adjustment to your child's bedtime, try waking them up an hour earlier the day before daylight saving time begins. That night, they'll likely be more sleepy and may be able to go to bed an hour earlier. When you wake them up at their regular time in the morning, they won't have lost an hour of sleep with the time change.

Stick to a Schedule

It can also help to wake your child up at the same time each day. Instead of letting your child sleep in after moving the clocks forward, wake them up at the same time they usually wake up (even if it is really an hour earlier).

It can also help to keep nap times regular and at the same adjusted time that your child usually takes them.

Don't Sleep In

While it's tempting to let your child sleep in the morning after daylight saving time starts, it might make it so your child won't be able to go to bed on time the next night. In turn, it will take longer for them to get back on schedule.

Take Naps

For older children and adults who end up feeling sleep deprived, a short nap in the early afternoon on the day after daylight saving time starts can help.

Tips for "Falling Back"

A gradual adjustment period also works at the end of daylight saving time. Gradually get your child used to their new bedtime, even before daylight saving time ends.

To transition to an 8 pm bedtime, you might start putting your child to bed 5 to 15 minutes later every few days leading up to daylight savings time. By the time you move the clock back an hour, your child will already used to going to bed at the "earlier" time.

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