Prepare Your Family for the “Falling Back” of Daylight Saving Times

Prepare Your Family for the “Falling Back” of Daylight Saving Times

[This blog post was written by Jennifer Tsappis, LICSW, a therapist on Amwell.]

An hour may not seem like much time, but when it comes to sleep it can make a big difference. Gaining an extra hour of sleep can leave you feeling irritable, groggy, and out of sorts. If you are parents of young children, you may be wondering what happens after this shift in sleep routine. 

The brain is a cluster of neurons that create an internal clock, also called a circadian rhythm. A circadian rhythm determines our sleep-wake cycle and relies on several factors, one of which is light. Natural sunlight filtering through the eyes serves to reset our sleep-wake cycle. The one-hour change of Daylight Saving Time (DST) can interfere with the natural sleep cycle. This can be disruptive for some people, especially those already struggling to get enough rest. Sleep deprivation is associated with a number of mental health concerns including increased anxiety, depression, poor judgment, and anger.

Here are some ways you and your family can prepare for the clock change and stay healthy this fall:

  • Maintain your normal bedtime on Saturday night and wake up at the same time on Sunday morning. To help your young children, you may have to shift bedtime a bit earlier. Four days before the time change, gradually move their bedtime forward by 15 minutes each night to give them time to adjust.
  • Use the extra hour in the morning to add a walk or jog into your day. Nutrition and exercise contribute to a healthy sleep-wake cycle and can be particularly helpful in times of transition.
  • Try to get as much natural sunlight as you can. The shorter days and colder temperatures may make it more difficult to spend time outside, but it will likely help re-set your circadian rhythms.
  • Avoid bright lights, including your electronic devices and screens, close to bedtime and in the middle of the night. Darkness promotes sleepiness.
  • Ideally, you want to stay in tune with your natural sleep cycle, so try to avoid long naps. If you feel sleepy during the day try going for a walk instead and you might notice an increase in your energy.
  • Establish a nighttime routine that promotes relaxation and gradual progression toward sleep. Try to avoid intense exercise or large meals 4 hours before bed. You can also practice breathing or relaxation exercise to reduce tension and promote relaxation.

If you could use a little support establishing and/or maintaining a sleep schedule, have a visit with a provider on Amwell! 

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