Reverting to Daylight Saving Time means millions of Canadians lost an hour of sleep this past weekend — and that can have a serious impact on you and your kid’s sleep schedule.
A good bedtime routine becomes imperative after a clock shift, and that applies to all members of your household, said Amanda Jewson, a Toronto-based sleep consultant.
“Your child’s 7 or 8 p.m. bedtime feels like 6 or 7 p.m. in their body, so that makes it really hard for them to want to fall asleep,” she told hosts on Global News’ The Morning Show.
How to help your child cope with the time change
Encouraging no screen use 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime is crucial for both kids and adults, she explained.
“The extra light from the screen actually stimulates the brain,” she said. “It makes it also harder for us to produce melatonin, which is our body’s own sleepy hormone.”
Scheduling a bath before bed, along with a massage for young children, will help sooth them into slumber, said Jewson.
To keep older children asleep, Jewson recommends adding items like a weighted blanket to reduce anxiety.
Blackout blinds to keep light out, along with ensuring the room temperature is a little colder for the spring, will also aid sleep, she said.
Losing sleep can impact a child’s mood and behaviour, said sleep specialist Heather Plante in a previous Global News report.
“If you are woken in the middle of your deep sleep, this is when you are disoriented and take a minute to figure out where you are. You are going to wake up more groggy and grumpy than if you were allowed to wake at the end of a sleep cycle naturally,” said Plante.
“This is where some children will wake up more miserable until they fully wake up.”
A child’s sleep schedule is around 45 minutes long, while an adult’s is 90 minutes. This shows the loss of an hour of sleep can have more of an impact on kids, explained Plante.
Be patient with your child and don’t be surprised if it takes up to two or three weeks before they fully adjust to the time change, she said.
“Our brains, they really crave regularity,” said Stuart Fogel, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Ottawa in a previous Global News report.
“And when there is a change like Daylight Saving Time, the best thing you can do is go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. And your brain will thank you for it.”
For more information about how to set a sleep schedule for your kids, watch Amanda Jewson in the video above.
— With files from Leslie Young and Dani-Elle Dube