We will be turning our clocks back to standard time on Sunday November 5th. This is good news in that we get an extra hour of sleep Sunday morning. However, for babies and little children, unless you have begun to reset their internal time clock, they will still wake up at their normal time. But it is not too late to start adjusting their schedule, so that by Sunday morning, you may all get that extra 60 minutes, that we all so crave!
Begin tonight by serving dinner earlier. Turn down the lights in the house in the hours leading up to bedtime, and have electronics turned off. These are all the things that act as cues for your baby or child to know it’s getting close to bedtime. By dimming rooms in the house, and turning off TVs, computers and other such devices, it will allow your child’s body to begin the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone.
Since your child’s internal sleep clock is set by light and dark, not only do you want to make the house dark at night in preparation for sleep, you also want to expose your child to as much sunshine and daylight as possible. This will reprogram your child’s clock and get them adjusted to this new time change.
Keep in mind that time changes can affect both your body clock and health. Similar to the feeling of jet lag one experiences when traveling to a different time zone, switching from daylight saving time to standard time, can leave you feeling tired; making it more difficult to concentrate or be productive at work. For children, the hour change to their sleeping schedule, can leave them tired and cranky for several days.
So in preparation for this time change, on November 5th at 1:00am, the best thing you can do is begin to stagger your child’s bedtime so that they are going to bed about 15 minutes earlier each night. If you begin this process now, you will be ahead of the game by aligning your child’s circadian rhythms with the new time change.
Besides the time changes that take place when we switch between daylight saving, standard time and back-children often have difficulty settling into a good sleep pattern. This can lead them and their parents to become sleep deprived, hyperactive, trouble focusing on daily tasks and higher learning, and in more serious situations-health issues such as diabetes,obesity,anxiety, depression and attention deficit disorder.
Angela Walsh is a Family Sleep Institute, Certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant and the founder of Babes in Sleepland. She helps sleep deprived babies, children and families, get back on track and get the sleep they need and desire. To learn more about Angela and how she can help you, visit her website: babesinsleepland.com. Also get sleep tips, the latest research on baby and child products, and be part of her weekly Q and A at her Facebook page: Babes in Sleepland.