Spring ahead! If you and your child are natural early birds, you might feel better rested this week. On the other hand, moving to daylight savings time can be a tough adjustment for natural night owls; they have the advantage in autumn, when the clocks “fall back.”
How do these twice-a-year changes affect sleep patterns for children and teens?
For teenagers, who on average are already sleep deprived from early school starting times, this week is a particular challenge! When the bell rings at school, their brains will be jet-lagged for another hour.
So, what helps?
Understand if you or your kids feel a bit “off-kilter” this week. We all might be a bit drowsier or crankier as our brains and bodies adjust. Light exposure resets our body rhythms. Using dim lights and room-darkening shades at bedtime, and eliminating screen time (television, computers and texts) an hour before bedtime, can help. In the morning, bright lights can help you get moving.
Two bits of good news: the majority of kids adjust within a few days to a few weeks. And spring is just around the corner!
Laurel Wills, M.D., is board-certified in general pediatrics, developmental-behavioral pediatrics and sleep medicine. She has joined the Gillette Sleep Health Clinic as a specialist in pediatric and adolescent sleep medicine, with a particular focus on caring for children and youth with developmental disabilities.