Children's health

Spring forward! 3 tips to help kids through daylight saving time 

March 7, 2014 at 11:15 AM ET

Daylight saving time (which begins this Sunday, March 9) isn't the easiest sell for kids. I know what's going to happen in my house: It won't be dark yet at my son's bedtime, it will "feel" earlier to him — and he'll put up a big old fuss when it's time to hit the hay at 7:30 p.m.

Are you anticipating the same bedtime battle with your kids? We asked Dr. Judith Owens, director of sleep medicine at the Children's National Health System in Washington, D.C., how to make this weekend's transition easier. Here are her three top tips:

Think of it like jet lag.
“Traveling west to east is more challenging than traveling in the east to west direction,” she says. “That is because the human circadian clock is actually a little longer than 24 hours, so it’s easier for us to stay up later than to fall asleep earlier in relation to our usual bedtime.” She suggests figuring at least one day per time zone crossed to adjust to the new time zone or time change, which means the biggest impact will be on Sunday night when kids might have a hard time falling asleep.

Take it back a baby step.
Owens says parents should move bedtime back by small 10-15 minute the few days before the time change. She also suggest moving daytime activities, like mealtime or naptime, up as well.

Be strategic with light.
“Timing of light exposure is also important,” Owens says. “If you want to move up their sleep schedule, increase light exposure in the morning and make his room darker in the evening.”

As for moms? The above applies to us, too!

Lindsay Tigar contributed to this story.

Video: Spring forward! Dr. Carol Ash joins TODAY to discuss tips for dealing with the time change coming up this weekend.



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