Two times a year, clocks spring forward or fall back for daylight saving time (DST), and the time change threatens to wreak havoc on sleep schedules.  A one-hour shift in sleep could disrupt sleep cycles for about a week, sometimes longer.  “For many families, this may mean early morning wakeups, bedtime resistance, or even extra night-waking as kids adjust,” shares Hannibal Regional Medical Group Pediatrician, Emma Wright, DO.  “However, there are a few things families can do to help make the transition easier on kids.”

Adjust in small amounts several days ahead

“It can help smooth the transition to adjust bedtime by smaller amounts before time change occurs,” says Dr. Wright.  “Babies and toddlers are not usually able to adapt as easily as older kids, so their increments may need to be smaller than older kids.”  If you can, start the transition a week or two in advance.  Each time you adjust your child’s bedtime for your chosen increment, give them three or four days to adjust to that same bedtime before adjusting it again.

Focus on going to sleep rather than waking up

“Because of things like school and daycare, morning routines often can’t be adjusted,” says Dr. Wright.  “Focus on transitioning sleep patterns at night and try to maintain the normal morning flow.”

What to do if you don’t plan ahead

“Sometimes time change sneaks up on us, and if you weren’t able to plan for it that is ok,” says Dr. Wright.  “Even if you aren’t able to slowly adjust bedtime, your child will eventually get used to the change.”

Foster good sleep habits

“It may sound easy, but the adjustment period might come with a few issues.  Kids might have trouble winding down at night, or could wake more in the middle of the night,” says Dr. Wright.  “Expect a transition period and try to be flexible if needed.  The important thing is to focus on making sure the child is getting enough sleep before worrying about sticking to a new bedtime.”

To help foster good sleep habits try to:

  • Shut off screen devices at least an hour or two before bedtime;
  • Encourage exercise;
  • Keep a consistent bedtime routine;
  • Open curtains or blinds in kids’ bedrooms in the morning.

To contact the pediatrics office at Hannibal Regional Medical Group call (573) 629-3500.