How to ease your children into the time change and how much sleep they really need
Winter is coming! If you’re anything like me you may not be thrilled about the chilly months that lie ahead, but those cold short days do have a few
advantages – especially longer nights!
We are about to change the clock back an hour and while some of us are a little saddened by the thought of eating dinner at 5:30 in the dark, this can be a great opportunity to help our kids start getting the kind of sleep they really need!
Studies show that the amount of sleep children get has a profound affect on their learning, attention, risk of obesity, and risk of depression. Most children in our country do not come close to getting the amount of sleep they need to process all of the information they are learning everyday.
When the clocks fall back we have an opportunity to bump their bedtimes up a little bit. Start on Sunday night by having them go to bed with respect to the time change. That is, if they usually go to bed at 9:00, have them go to bed at 8:00 (on the newly changed clock). Their body will feel like they are going to bed at the same time and they can potentially get an hour more sleep. From then on out, try to stick to that new, earlier bed time.
Of course this will take a little preparation on your part. It is going to get light earlier so you want to make sure their room stays as dark as possible in the morning. This will also mean that you need to bump your dinnertime up so that you can fit the entire bedtime routine in at a relaxed pace.
This may seem like more of a hassle than just giving them that extra hour on Sunday night to stick to their old bedtime, but the payoff is high. In a study of 4th grade students, children who received one hour more sleep performed two grade levels higher on tests of neurobiological functioning.
Eventually their bodies will adapt to the time change and you probably won’t be able to keep that full extra hour of earlier bedtime, but try to cling to getting them to bed at least 15 to 30 minutes earlier. Every little bit can help. Studies have shown that even 15 minutes of extra sleep can be the difference between an “A” and a “B” student.
How much kids need according to the National Sleep Foundation
Infants – 9-12 hours at night plus 2-4 naps during the day (lasting 30
minutes to 2 hours)
Toddlers (1-3) – 12-14 hours in a 24 hour period
Preschoolers (3-5) 11-13 hours in a 24 hour period
School Age – 10-11 hours a night
Guest blogger Dr. Kristen Race is a mother of two formerly-miserable sleepers, and the founder of Smart Dreamzzz, LLC. Along with creating a line of CDs to help
kids fall asleep easily, Kristen has designed a Mindful Yoga curriculum for preK-5th Graders, and she can be seen throughout Colorado presenting
her “Creating Peaceful Homes” parenting discussion. For more information, visit her at www.smartdreamzzz.com.
Photo: The Parenting Magazine