Updated December 2020.
With daylight savings time change just around the corner, families everywhere can expect some disruption to their sleep schedules. But as any exhausted parent can attest, getting enough sleep is a critical ingredient for a happy and healthy household. As we look to turn back the clocks this weekend, here are six tips to help your family get the sleep you all need.
- Re-establish a routine. Young kids really thrive on a routine. When that routine is changed, even by an hour, you can anticipate that life may be shaken up for a day or two. But don’t let it get the better of you as you and the kids settle into your new routine.
- Reset the clocks the night before. One way to help re-establish that routine is to reset the clocks the night before the change actually occurs. After dinner, go room to room and adjust each clock so the new time is treated as the real time before bed. You can even make it a fun family activity and show the kids how to change the clocks themselves. Although you might want to prepare yourself for a time-related prank down the line!
- No caffeine after 3 pm. The whole family should avoid coffee, tea, soda, and yes, even chocolate milk 6 to 9 hours before bedtime. Many parents forget that chocolate milk has caffeine in it but if you’re including the calcium-rich treat before light’s out, it might be impacting your child’s ability to fall asleep.
- Try warm milk. Take a cue from parenting tricks of years past: Warm milk might actually help you and your kids get to sleep a little easier. Although studies have shown the sleepy effect of warm milk is likely not due to tryptophan but rather the act of indulging in a calming routine, much like snuggling up to a warm blanket.
- Consider light therapy. With shorter days, many people find themselves struggling to remain upbeat. Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD, affects many Americans. The best way to beat those winter blues? Many people find light therapy extremely helpful. Simply expose yourself to bright light, ideally fluorescent bulbs, for a few minutes or so per day to claim back your sunnier disposition.
- Be aware of your medications. Lastly, it’s important to pay attention to the instructions that accompany your prescription medications around this time. For instance, if you’re advised to wait a certain amount of time before you can eat, make sure to leave yourself enough time in the morning to take your medications and eat a healthy breakfast.