Friday, October 12, 2012

The unspoken parental terror: Daylight Saving Time

While there’s much to enjoy about the changing of the seasons, this time of year fills many North American parents with dread. Because on November 4th, the terror that is ‘daylight savings time’ will again rear its ugly head, wreaking havoc with children’s sleeping patterns the continent-over. Children’s sleep expert Dawn Whittaker, of Cheeky Chops Consulting, has some solid advice for parents nervous about adjusting to the change.

While technically the fall change allows us gain an hour during the time change, the impact on children’s sleep patterns can be no less detrimental. While that first morning lie-in could be bliss for parents (though few children are likely to allow you to profit from the extra hour), evenings are likely to be decidedly less enjoyable. In order to stay ‘on schedule’ children would, ideally, be going to bed an hour later—something that can be difficult.

“No two children are alike. One child might have zero problems dealing with the time changes, while it might turn the world of others upside-down. Whichever category your child falls into, the most important thing is to maintain continuity. Don’t change your bedtime routines—children pick up on those changes and ultimately, it will make the transition far more difficult,” says Whittaker, sleep consultant and CEO of Cheeky Chops. “If you know your child has a particularly difficult time adjusting to time changes, try planning in advance. Make the bedtime change incremental, moving it back 15 minutes at a time over the week.”

Changes to our internal clocks, even seemingly minor ones of an hour, can have a significant impact on mental health. The time change can also affect older children who find it hard to adjust to a new schedule. For parents of older kids, Whittaker reminds parents to be patient. “Just because your children are older, doesn’t mean that they’re instantly able to adjust to the difference. Think about how much of an impact jet lag has on our bodies as adults—this is no different.”

For more tips on children’s sleep health, or for information on sleep consulting, visit


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