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Kids Sleep and Daylight Saving Time

Help Your Kids Spring Forward Without Losing Sleep


Updated July 16, 2014


The National Sleep Foundation Offers Tips to Help Children and Parents "Spring Forward"

WASHINGTON, DC (March 31) - It happens in the middle of the night once a year, and can affect you and your children for several days. It's the return of Daylight Saving Time, which happens this year at 2:00 a.m. Sunday, April 6 for most of the nation. Daylight Saving Time also marks the end of National Sleep Awareness Week, the National Sleep Foundation's (NSF) week-long effort to waken America to the importance of sleep.

The annual "spring forward" ritual can cause disruptions in normal sleep patterns for children and adults. However, NSF says there are steps you can take to minimize the sleep loss and enjoy the benefits of healthy sleep and productive days.

"It is not uncommon for children to experience sleep disruptions with the return of Daylight Saving Time," says Jodi Mindell, PhD, a nationally recognized expert in pediatric sleep and a member of NSF's board of directors. "It may take your child longer to fall asleep with the time change. Since we move the clock forward, he or she may not be as sleepy as usual at bedtime," says Dr. Mindell, a professor of psychology at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia, and associate director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

To help your child make that adjustment, Dr. Mindell offers these two tips to ease the transition and keep sleep deprivation at a minimum. No matter what approach you take, your child will adjust to the time change within a few days to a week:

  • Maintain your child's regular sleep, wake and nap times. Try not to compensate for the lost hour by delaying bedtime or allowing your child to sleep in. This willincrease the time it takes to transition. There may be some crankiness from being tired, but this should last only a day or two.

  • Make gradual adjustments. Some parents find it is best to try to start makingadjustments on Saturday night rather than wait until Sunday, a school night. Youmight even want to try making a slow transition starting on Thursday night before the time change, moving your child's bedtime earlier by 15 minutes each night. By Sunday night you will be right back on schedule.

Now for parents, who, like their children, can also experience sleep loss and schedule disruptions because of the time change. As many parents know, additional sleep deprivation is not something they can afford. NSF polls reveal that most adults already get less than the recommended seven to nine hours of nightly sleep needed to be fully alert the next day. "Too many people will sacrifice yet another hour of sleep when the clocks change - an hour they cannot afford to lose, particularly on the weekend, when people try to catch up on the sleep they missed during the week," said Richard Gelula, NSF's executive director.

By making a few simple lifestyle changes, most people can achieve the sleep that is needed to feel alert, refreshed and ready to take on the day. These steps can help your own transition into Daylight Saving Time:

  • Try to sleep more than usual a few nights prior to and immediately following the time change.

  • Take a nap in the afternoon on Sunday if you need it, but not within a few hours of your regular bedtime. Napping too close to bedtime can disrupt nighttime sleep.

Daylight Saving Time marks the end of National Sleep Awareness Week, when NSF and its partners in communities across the country raise awareness about the importance of sleep and treatment of sleep disorders. "Let Sleep Work For You" is the theme for the Week this year, a theme NSF urges Americans to adopt with healthy sleep habits throughout the year. Learn what you can do to improve your sleep and how to recognize signs of potentially serious sleep disorders by visiting NSF's Web site, www.sleepfoundation.org.

The National Sleep Foundation is an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to improving public health and safety by achieving understanding of sleep and sleep disorders, and by supporting education, sleep-related research, and advocacy. NSF is based in Washington, D.C. National Sleep Awareness Week; is a licensed program of the National Sleep Foundation.

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