It happens in the
middle of the night once a year, and it can affect
you and your children for several days.
to daylight saving time, which happened last night, if you didn't already know. It's not uncommon for all of us to
experience sleep disruptions such as taking longer to fall asleep and having more difficulty getting up in the
Everyone can be a bit crankier for a week or so until our
bodies adjust their circadian rhythms. It's amazing how
regular those rhythms can
become, so delaying them even one hour can play havoc,
especially on our little ones.
Circadian rhythm is roughly a 24-hour cycle in the physiological processes of living beings, including plants, animals,fungi and bacteria. It is important in determining the sleeping and feeding patterns of all animals, including human
beings. There are clear patterns of brainwave activity, hormone production, cell regeneration and other biological
activities linked to this daily cycle. The rhythm is believed to have originated in the earliest cells for the purpose
of replicating DNA from high ultraviolet radiation during the daytime. As a result, replication was relegated to the
Children need between nine and 12 hours of sleep per 24-hour period, depending on their age, body type, energy level
and temperament. Some signs of sleep deprivation show up in behavior problems, lower memory retention, depression and
moodiness. When a child's rhythm is changed
suddenly, as it was last night, it may take a few days to return to normal.
To help your child adjust to the transition and keep sleep deprivation at a minimum, choose one of these methods:
Maintain your child's regular sleep, wake and nap times. Try not to compensate for the lost hour by delaying bedtime or
allowing the child to sleep in. Compensation will only extend the time it takes to transition. There may be some
crabbiness from being tired, but it should last only a day or two.
Make gradual adjustments. You can begin by moving your child's bedtime earlier by 15 minutes each night starting the
Wednesday or Thursday night before the time change. By Sunday night, you'll be right back on schedule.
Or you can wait until tonight and move the bedtime up by 10 minutes each night until you've transitioned to the new
time in a week.
As far as naps for younger children, you may have to
play around to find the right naptime again. Some kids
transition from one nap to two in the weeks after the
onset of daylight saving time.
Whichever of these choices you make, you're not alone. Parents all over the world are dealing with this exact same
issue right now - except
parents in Arizona.
We should declare a worldwide Day of Sleep the Monday after this time change so we could all catch up.
I think I'll take a nap today.
Martha McClellan has been an early childhood educator, director and administrator for 32 years. She is currently
consulting with and supporting early-care providers. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.