Daylight Saving Time begins this Sunday, March 14, when we’ll be turning our clocks ahead one hour.
For many of us, it can be a difficult adjustment, especially when we’re already lacking adequate sleep time.
Here are some of my tips on how you can prepare yourself and your family for the change in sleep patterns that come with the time change:
- A few days in advance of the time change, move bedtime up by half an hour.
- Have well-established sleep cues. It’s important that children understand that bedtime means it’s time to wind down. Sleep cues such as a consistent bedtime routine can help signal to a child that it’s time to get ready for bed. Listening to the same soft music or taking the time to read a book in bed can also be helpful cues. These sleep cues also will come in handy when we get into the summer months when kids don’t want to go to bed while it’s still light outside.
- No matter what your age, avoid screen time with electronics (including your smart phone) right before bed. It can be especially hard to get good rest if you use electronics right before bed, especially if your body is resetting due to the time change. The more time you can spend away from those devices before bed, the more restful your sleep will be. I’d also suggest taping over the numbers on your electronic alarm clock if they’re too bright and interfere with your ability to prepare for sleep.
- If you’re having trouble adjusting to the time change, you might consider trying taking an over-the-counter version of Melatonin, a hormone our bodies produce that adjusts your sleep and wake cycles. It’s an unusual drug in that the more you use, the less it tends to work, so be careful not to overdo the dosage. I would recommend starting a 3 milligrams for anyone age 5 and older about a half hour before bed. Typically the effect wears off after about two weeks; most people see a change in sleep patterns prior to the two weeks. Melatonin is also something to have on hand if you or your family travel across multiple time zones to help with jet lag.