This week’s post is by featured contributor Esther Schiedel. We hope that you enjoy it and, as always, we look forward to future posts by Esther.
It’s coming…aargh! The worst day (and week) of the year: the switch to Daylight Savings Time.
This can be really hard on families with children and teens. Not to mention every other person.
Here are a few strategies that have helped me as an adult and a few ideas I’ve found online. Please share your own strategies.
Start now by moving bedtime a little bit earlier each night—if you have a lead time of five nights (Monday-Saturday) then 12 minutes earlier each night gets you to an hour.
Some people recommend simultaneously waking up earlier as well. I’d suggest NOT doing that or at least not doing that until closer to Sunday. My rationale is that it’s better to get as much sleep as you can in advance of the change. Many of us are already short on sleep. See waking up strategies below.
Practice healthy sleep habits:
Fresh air and exercise during the day
De-stressing/relaxing times during the day and/or evening
Shift meal schedule gradually as well (if possible) It isn’t just bedtime and morning that gets thrown out of whack by the time change. If you can’t move meals try to incorporate more snacks (healthy ones and maybe some high tryptophan foods for dinner and bedtime snacks). See this article from the National Sleep Foundation.
One hour before you want to get to sleep: No screens. No full spectrum, LED or fluorescent lights. Use a yellow, amber or red bulb for reading (see the linked article on How Blue Light Affects Kids & Sleep). Red Christmas lights work well as nightlights. Googling “blue light blocking products” will get you to many sources of bulbs. Candlelight probably works as well, but please be careful!
Change your clock during the day on Saturday (if at all possible). I got this idea from crossing the Atlantic Ocean by ship. Going east, they changed the time at noon (since they had total control over the schedule, this was possible). I don’t know if part of it was psychological but it really helped. The change made dinner earlier so that also contributed.
Waking up. Just as light interferes with going to sleep, it helps us wake up. Gradually increasing the light in the morning will help you (and the kids) wake up. There are products “dawn simulators” that provide this (sorry to keep you Googling and spending money but it can be a good investment-some are less expensive than others so research options). Or you can do this manually for your children.
Make morning a pleasant time: snuggling, talking, reading with your child can make for a happier transition. Breakfast in bed anyone? Allow enough time for morning routines.
The real key to happy waking up is getting enough sleep the night before. Most of us don’t get enough sleep so this is a good time to focus on more sleep. Here are some more guidelines and resources.
See Sleepless in America by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. She also has a website with a free download of sleep suggestions.
Esther Schiedel is parent to three adults, grandparent to three boys, and a Certified Family Life Educator. She provides parenting education through classes and workshops through LBCC and through her business, Sharing Strengths. She became interested in parenting education when she became a parent and had a need for more information and support.