How to Beat the Scaries when Daylight Savings Time Hits

A person sleeping next to an alarm clock.

The clocks are set to spring forward at 2 a.m on Sunday, March 10, and parents everywhere have a sense of impending doom, as that single hour of missed sleep wreaks havoc on kids, creating significant bedtime battles both in the morning and at night.

Sleep Health Educator & Certified Sleep Coach Soda Kuczkowski said the sudden need to fall asleep and wake up earlier disrupts the natural alignment between kids’ internal clock and the external time cues.

“This lack of sleep can affect their mood, making them more irritable or emotional,” Kuczkowski said. “It can also hinder their cognitive functions, reducing their attention span, impairing memory, and making learning and schoolwork more challenging.” 

Despite that, Kuczkowski said that parents shouldn’t fret – there are several ways to lessen the blow of Daylight Savings Time and beat the Sunday scaries. By following these practices, parents can help minimize the disruptive effects of losing an hour of sleep and support their child in adjusting more comfortably to the time change during DST.

Gradually adjust bedtime

Start adjusting your child’s bedtime 15 minutes earlier each night about 4 days before the DST change. This gradual approach helps their body clock adapt slowly without feeling a sudden change.

Establish a soothing bedtime routine

Create a calming bedtime routine that may include a warm bath, dimming the lights and reading a book. This routine can signal to your child’s body that it’s time to wind down and prepare for sleep, making the transition smoother.

Incorporate reading into the routine

Reading to or with your child before bed can significantly calm their mind and prepare them for sleep. The act of reading not only enhances their literacy skills but also serves as a relaxing activity that promotes better sleep quality.

Developing a consistent routine like reading a bedtime story at night can soothe jitters and create a calming environment when change is imminent,” said Alysson Bourque, author of Alycat and the Sunday Scaries, a new children’s book that provides young readers with tools to conquer their fears, struggles, and the unknown. 

A child reading a book.

Books are also an excellent resource that can help with adjustments to change and improve mental wellbeing, Bourque said.

“Sharing a bedtime story with children brings families closer together, sparks imagination and develops problem-solving and coping skills as children are validated by a character that may be going through the same circumstances,” Bourque said. “Reflecting on these characters after a bedtime story will foster self-affirmation, confidence, and solace, especially with the Sunday scaries.”

Limit exposure to screens

Reduce screen time at least an hour before bedtime. The blue light from screens can inhibit the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone, making it harder for children to fall asleep.

Ensure a comfortable sleep environment

Keep the bedroom cool, quiet and dark. Use blackout curtains if necessary to block out early evening light, creating an environment that supports sleep.

Expose to morning light

Encourage exposure to natural sunlight in the morning. Morning light helps reset your child’s internal clock to the new time, promoting wakefulness during the day and readiness for sleep at night.

Maintain consistency

Stick to the new bedtime and routine consistently, even on weekends. Consistency helps reinforce the body’s sleep-wake cycle, aiding in faster adjustment to the DST change.