Daylight saving time: 4 sleep tips for parents

Some parents of young children and teenagers may dread the clock springing forward, but there are ways to make the transition this Sunday a smoother one.

Same weekday, weekend sleep times stressed by pediatrician

Mary Elizabeth Picher, who offers sleep support to families, listens to a lullaby with her son Beau. (CBC)

Some parents dread the clock springing forward and the loss of a precious hour, but there are ways to make the transition this Sunday a smoother one.

After the time changes in most parts of the country, infants and children might be a bit more hyperactive and teens more irritable, said Dr. Reshma Amin, a respirologist with an interest in sleep disorders at Toronto’s SickKids Hospital.

"I can't stress enough the importance of consistent bedtimes and wake times for children and teenagers on weekdays and weekends," Amin said.

Ideally, parents can prepare for the time change by gradually shifting bedtime 15 minutes earlier starting a few days before Sunday, Amin said.

Mary Elizabeth Picher is completing her PhD in child development at the University of Toronto and offers sleep support to parents at Wholeplay Family Services.

"You can follow your child's cues and not necessarily force an earlier bedtime but gradually still get the earlier bedtime going over time," Picher suggested.

Three more tips from Picher and Amin:

  • Block out the light at night in a child's room.
  • Stay calm. If parents get uptight or anxious their children will pick up on it. 
  • Turn off devices like iPads an hour before bedtime and keep them out of your child’s bedroom.

Picher’s own strategy? "I don't worry too much about it. To me, I think, 'Oh great. We get more time to play outside,' and I'm not an early riser, so anything that's going to help my children potentially to sleep in longer, I'm really happy about."

With files from CBC's Christine Birak


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