Daylight Savings Time: Ways to Prepare

Connecticut Children’s  “Bedtime Doctor” Lynelle Schneeberg, PsyD, joins our blog to share some valuable techniques that can help prepare you and your family for Daylight Savings on March 12.

cute little girl on morning

There are two ways to prepare for Daylight Savings Time. Adjust gradually during the week before the change: If your child goes to bed at 8pm, put him or her to bed at 7:45, 7:30, and so on until you have made up the hour. Adjust naps, too. OR you can…

Adjust on the actual weekend of the change: On Saturday night, adjust the clocks in your home after your children go to bed.  On Sunday morning, get your children up at the time they’ll need to rise on Monday morning.  On Sunday,  you will also want to expose them to sunlight at the “new” rise time for at least 30-60 minutes (play/walk outdoors) and have breakfast at the new time, too.

~ All day Sunday, do everything at the new time (meals, naps, bedtime routine) and put them to bed “on time” (an hour early but read longer perhaps).

~ Using your typical bedtime routine will help to cue sleep.

~ Try to help your children go into the change well rested.

~ Be patient if your children are short-tempered during the first week of the change.

~ It should take your children about a week to adjust.

In addition, it always helps to get up at about the same time each day, every day.  The weekend rise time should not be more than an hour or so later than the weekday arise time.  This helps to keep the “body clock” set properly.  Sleeping in later on the weekends makes it much harder to go to sleep on a Sunday night, for example, because there has not been enough “wake time” to let the body know that it’s time for sleep again at the desired bedtime.  Consistent wake times also help decrease irritability at rise time work and school days.

In the morning, try sunlight exposure to help with awakening at the desired time.  The bed can be situated near a window with open drapes.  If outdoor sunlight exposure can be obtained, this is even more ideal.  Perhaps breakfast can be eaten outdoors or while waiting for the bus for a school-age child or teen or perhaps some time can be spent outside after arriving at work or school during a break.  Sunlight exposure signals the brain to “wake up” fully and sets the clock for the same rise time the next day.

Some light physical activity (walking the dog or walking to the bus stop) and a breakfast with protein (a protein shake or an egg, for example) are also helpful.  On the weekends, schedule an enjoyable activity to take place at the desired wake up time so it is not so difficult to get up.

Some teens and adults may also benefit from a small dose of caffeine (perhaps a cup of strong tea or coffee) in the morning but generally, large amounts of caffeine should be avoided.  Use the word CALF to remember how to set the clock: Caffeine, Activity, Light (sunlight) exposure and Food.

Connecticut Children’s Sleep Center specializes in diagnosing disorders that disturb children’s sleep. To learn more about our center, please visit http://www.connecticutchildrens.org/our-care/sleep-center/

3 Quick Facts about Childhood Insomnia

Connecticut Children’s Medical Center’s “Bedtime Doctor” Lynelle Schneeberg, PsyD, joins our blog to share some fast facts about childhood insomnia.

Preparing her to sleepConnecticut Children’s Sleep Center works with many families each year to improve their child’s insomnia. Insomnia refers to trouble falling asleep or trouble staying asleep. Here are three quick facts about childhood insomnia that may help improve your child’s ability to fall and stay asleep in this new year.

1.) Not every child with insomnia requires a sleep study
Many parents think that a child with insomnia needs a sleep study. However, most children (unless they have very obvious symptoms of sleep apnea, such as witnessed pauses in breathing or loud snoring) do not need a sleep study. Most childhood insomnia can be improved with a better bedtime routine (see below).

2.) Having a parent present while the child is falling asleep can negatively impact the child’s ability to sleep deeply
Parents often ask, “Why does my child fall asleep quickly at bedtime but have difficulty staying asleep?” This problem is common and is often due to the fact that the parent is present at bedtime in the child’s room while the child is falling asleep. The parent then leaves. When the child wakes up again during the night, as all children do, the child must then call out or come and find the parent in order to fall back to sleep because that’s the only way they know how to fall asleep (when a parent is present).

3.) Granting last minute requests at bedtime does more harm than good
It is common for a child to ‘stall’ at bedtime and or make lots of additional requests after the bedtime routine is supposed to be over. Their child might want “one more hug” or perhaps another bedtime story. One child might want to make lots more trips to the bathroom while another child might want their parents to check under the bed or fix their blanket just so. These extra requests often go on for a long period of time. Many parents think that if they grant all of these requests, their child will then finally fall asleep. However, granting all of these requests after lights out actually rewards the child for staying awake (by giving the child lots of extra attention when the bedtime routine should actually be over). There are some really simple ways to make sure that your child has everything he or she needs at bedtime but that also allow you, as a parent, to set some reasonable limits.

The Sleep Center at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center can help design and customize a “new and improved” bedtime routine for your family. The new routine will be designed to improve childhood insomnia by helping your child learn to fall asleep independently and in their own room. This goal is accomplished gradually over time so that the process will not be overly disruptive or upsetting to your child. The bedtime routine will also have some steps for you, the parents, to help with limit setting at bedtime while still ensuring that your child has everything he or she needs to fall asleep quickly, easily and peacefully.

If you think that your family could benefit from a new bedtime routine, please call the Sleep Center at (860) 837-6643 to make an appointment with Dr. Lynelle Schneeberg, our behavioral sleep specialist.

*Register for Dr. Schneeberg’s free, educational sleep webinar on January 19th at 12:15pm. Visit www.ctchildrenswebinar.com to learn more.