How to Prepare Kids for the End of Daylight Saving Time This November

Daylight Saving Time ends the first Sunday of November in most states, including Connecticut. That means on Nov. 7, 2021, clocks “fall back” an hour: Instead of 2 am, it’ll be 1 am.

That extra hour can cause problems around bedtime (even if your child already has a great bedtime routine) because they will not be as sleepy as usual. Connecticut Children’s pediatric sleep psychologist Lynelle Schneeberg, PsyD, shares tips to make the change easier.

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There are two ways to prepare for the end of Daylight Saving Time – the gradual method, and the last-minute method. Both work best if your child is already well-rested, so make their sleep a priority in the weeks to come!

The “Week Before” Method 

Adjust little by little in the week before the change.

  • If your child goes to bed at 8 pm, put them to bed at 7:45 pm, 7:30 pm, and so on, until you have made up the hour.
  • Adjust wake-up times and naps, too.

If you want, you can even start making this change earlier, and just shift times earlier by 5 or 10 minutes.

> Related: 3 Bedtime Challenges Your Kids Might Be Having Now – and How to Solve Them

Parent tucking child in for bedtime

The “Weekend Of” Method

Adjust on the same weekend when Daylight Saving Time ends. 

  • Saturday night: After your child goes to bed, change the clocks in your home.
  • Sunday morning: Get your child up at the time they’ll need to rise on Monday morning. Right away, get them out and about in sunlight for 30 to 60 minutes. Have breakfast at the new time, too.
  • Sunday afternoon and evening: Do everything at the new time, including meals and naps. Put your child to bed “on time.” Use their typical bedtime routine to help cue sleep.

It should take your child about a week to adjust. In the meantime, be patient if they’re a little moody.

> Related: More Than the Winter Blues? Kids and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

More Tips (From Both Methods!)

Always get your child up around the same time each day, whether it’s a weekday or a weekend.

To keep your child’s “body clock” set properly, they shouldn’t sleep in on the weekends – at least, no more than an hour or so later than they do on weekdays.

(Sleeping in on the weekend makes it much harder to go to sleep Sunday night, because the body doesn’t get enough “wake time” to know it’s time for sleep again. Consistent wake times also help your child feel more awake – and less grumpy – when it’s time to get up on school days.)

> Related: 4 Quick Tips to Help Kids Sleep Better and Wake Up Energized

In the morning, try using sunlight exposure to help your child wake up more easily.

Sunlight “talks” to the brain and tells it that it’s time to wake up fully. Sunlight exposure also helps to set the body’s clock for the same rise time the next day. Position your child’s bed near a window with open drapes, or even better, go outdoors to get that sunlight exposure. Take a walk, play with the dog in the yard, or have breakfast outside.

Add exercise and protein into your child’s morning routine.

Some light physical activity, like yoga, walking the dog, or walking to the bus stop, can help your child feel more awake in the mornings. So can a healthy breakfast with some protein, like a protein shake or an egg.

 As always, consistency is key. So keep these habits up on the weekends too: Schedule a fun activity for your child’s wake-up time to encourage them to get up on time.

 

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