Losing an hour of sleep might not seem like a big deal to you, but to little ones, those 60-minutes can really take a toll. Daylight Saving Time can actually feel worse for kids than flying across the country and trying to adjust to a new time zone, says Jodi Mindell, PH.D., a professor of psychology at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia who studies pediatric sleep. Everything from their sleep to their appetite and mood can be thrown out of whack.
So to avoid the crankies, start preparing your kids for the shift now by following these three simple tips:
Shift bedtime gradually. It’s best if you start a few nights before the time change. The first night, have the bedtime story finished and the kids tucked in about 15 minutes earlier than their usual bedtime. The following night, lights out about 15 minutes before that and so on until Sunday. The earlier you start, the easier the transition.
Stick to your daytime routine. After the time change, keep your kiddos on the same schedule. Don’t confuse kids by changing their naptime or dinnertime to make up for the time change.
Expose kids to bright light. If your kids are still having trouble waking up, expose them to bright light first thing in the morning. Even artificial light in the a.m. will help kids reprogram their internal clock.