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Montreal Families

Help kids adjust to daylight savings time

Whether it involves setting the clocks an hour forward to welcome spring, or getting an extra hour of sleep to transition to the darker winter months, daylight savings time can impact your entire family’s routine.

Those 60 extra minutes of slumber may not seem like much, but a toddler or a school-aged child can take a while to adjust to a new sleep routine. Luckily, there are things you can do to minimize the impact on your family’s schedule. The clocks go back an hour on November 6, 2022.

Start transitioning early

Trying to get your toddler to bed at 6 p.m. instead of 7 p.m. can be a trying experience. To get your little one used to going to bed a little earlier or a little later than usual, it’s a good idea to start transitioning your child to an earlier or later bedtime.

Try to get your little one into bed 10 to 15 minutes earlier or later (depending on which way the clock is going) in the week leading up to the time change.  This way, his body clock will have made some of the adjustment already. While your child may not actually go to sleep until his regular bedtime, you are encouraging his body to relax a little earlier than usual and this will lead to falling asleep earlier too.

Trying to wear your child out in a bid to get him to sleep earlier is not encouraged. Overtired children often actually take longer to fall asleep and may even resist sleep completely.

Maintain your nap time schedules

Keeping younger children on track with naps following the time change will allow them to better transition to their routine. Even if your little one doesn’t seem ready at first, encourage quiet time and rest at 2 p.m. if your child usually naps at that time.

Adjust early risers

If your child keeps waking too early, ensure that he understands that you don’t consider this an acceptable time to start the day. Encourage him to doze but if he really wants to be awake, encourage him to stay in bed doing a quiet activity.

Protect your child’s sleep time

Do your best to protect your child’s sleep time during transitions to daylight savings time. Ask family and friends not to call after a certain time and encourage the rest of the family to try and limit noise, and if possible, adopt a similar transition as your child.

Encourage good sleep hygiene

Adopting a healthy sleep routine throughout the year will ensure that your child bounces back from a change in sleep routine quickly. The following tips can be followed year-round to promote sleep hygiene:

  • Your child should go to bed and get up at a similar time every day. A regular routine is very important. On weekends or days off, try not to extend his waking hours too much.
  • Develop a pre-sleep routine: bath, brushing teeth, pyjamas, kiss goodnight and a bedtime story. Any activities before going to bed should be quiet ones.
  • Your child should exercise regularly. However, avoid heavy exercise within three hours of going to sleep.
  • Optimize your child’s sleeping environment. Ensure his room has a cooler temperature, is dark and quiet. If your child is afraid of the dark, you can use a night light.
  • Your child shouldn’t go to bed hungry. A light snack will help but don’t put him to bed if he has had a heavy meal within three hours of sleep.
  • Your child should not read, watch TV, eat or play video games in bed. Your child’s bed is meant for rest.
  • Firmly discourage the consumption of energy drinks. These drinks contain dangerously high amounts of caffeine and too much sugar.

Article courtesy of the Montreal Children’s Hospital.

Related read: Pave the way to a better sleep for kids

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