A sleep expert weighs in on how families should best deal with losing that hour of sleep when you “spring forward.”
Let's face it: Anything that trips up the morning or evening routine—or any family routine, for that matter—can be tough on working moms and their kids. Certainly, losing an hour of sleep at the daylight savings shift (or gaining an hour back in the fall) is one of those things. But there are strategies to lessen the impact, says Philip Alapat, MD, medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Harris County Hospital District in Houston, TX. Here, ways to prepare for daylight savings time so you can get back on track at home and at work, sooner rather than later. (Remember to set your clocks forward one hour this Sunday.)
1. Be prepared
Kids have the hardest time adjusting to the time change, so ease them into it, says Dr. Alapat. “The clock may say 9 p.m. after the daylight savings shift, but your child’s body may still feel like it's 8, so putting him to sleep after the time change can be difficult.” To cope, parents should begin adjusting their children’s bedtime four days before the time switch. Make bedtime 15 minutes earlier each day until it adds up to an hour the night of the time change. The clock shift will be barely noticeable after this prep.
2. Stay on schedule
For already-sleep-deprived working moms, it's worth making the extra effort to get enough sleep in the days leading up to daylight savings time. “People who are already sleep deprived, for whatever reason, will feel it more in the spring with the loss of an hour,” says Dr. Alapat. So try and keep a schedule—waking up and going to bed at the same time each day in the weeks around the time shift. This is also the time to ease up on caffeine and alcohol, which can disrupt sleep.
3. Get some sun
Besides making sure to get the proper amount of zzz's, “early morning bright light exposure can also help train your circadian rhythms,” says Dr. Alapat. So eat breakfast in a bright part of your house, or get in an early morning walk.
4. Take two days to adjust
“Most people can adjust within one to two days, but some individuals may take longer," says Dr. Alapat. “It's easier for humans to adjust to the fall gain of an hour than it is for the spring loss of an hour.” Prepare to feel restless and unfocused in the days after you set clocks forward. You might want to avoid scheduling any important work presentations during those days in case you aren't at your best.
Written by Leah Bourne for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.