Adjusting to daylight saving time – the loss of an hour at 2 a.m. Sunday, March 11 – can take several days for some people and is especially tough on children and teens.
“While some adults are significantly affected by the time changes, children tend to have the most difficult time,” said Dr. Philip Alapat, a sleep-disorders specialist at Baylor College of Medicine.
But Alapat and other health experts said several strategies can lessen the effects of potential sleep deprivation that can result from "springing forward" by 60 minutes.
As a general rule, children should get 9-11 hours of sleep each night for proper development and to prepare for school. Parents should adjust bedtimes for young children – and encourage their teens to do so -- beginning a few days before the time change. It’s a good idea to explain why you’re changing bedtime.
• Try to maintain a consistent bedtime and wake-up time, particularly for the days leading up to and after the time change.
• Begin four days before the day of the time change – by making bedtime 15 minutes earlier each night until it adds up to an hour the night of the time change. “Even though the clock says 9 p.m. after daylight saving time, your child’s body hasn’t fully adjusted to the new time,” Alapat noted. “The child’s body still thinks it’s 8 p.m., so putting him to sleep after the time change could be difficult.”
• Be aware that common effects of not adjusting well to the time change include sleepiness, fatigue, irritability, restlessness and confusion.
If sleeping problems persist more than a few days, health experts advise consulting your primary care physician or a sleep disorders specialist.