Yes, this is a thing. Like clockwork around the beginning of March and the end of October, I start to notice our kids’ ability to sleep alter. It’s like a slow simmer that builds up to a boil and suddenly it feels like the nap and bedtime schedules go off the rails. And every year I forget, and then every year I look at the calendar and let out an audible OH! Daylight Savings. This barely 100-year-old tradition sneaks its way into our family’s daily life and causes … let’s call it consternation.
About two weeks before the twice annual time change our four children’s sleep schedules shift. In spite of blackout curtains and noise reducing machines (best investment ever), we’ve dealt with this hurdle every year for over a decade. And we’re not alone.
We all know that our circadian rhythm, the internal system that guides our physical being, is impacted by sunlight. Research shows that kids are more sensitive to sunlight than adults. Evidently children’s eyes literally allow more light into their bodies. Children have clearer retinal lenses than adults do, which allows more light to pass through — children preschool age and younger also have larger pupils which allows even more light in. This perhaps might create an even bigger disruption around time changes. The research also pointed out that sleep interruption is responsible for behavioral issues, to which all of us nod our heads furiously in agreement.
So what can we do? First of all, be aware of your kids’ patterns when it comes to sleep. This will help you identify if a sleep change is temporary or trending. When we noticed a trend around an upcoming time change we would slide nap and bedtimes by 30m for a couple of weeks before the actual time change. It enabled an easier transition for the kids, and maintained our sanity. This was doable when my children were younger (read: incapable of reading a clock). Now that we’re past that stage, we try to be vigilant and keep the bedtime actually on-time and not let any night creep later than it should. But what I’ve benefited from the most is the simple knowledge that there is a reason why sleep is trickier for these specific periods of time. I’m not just going crazy (well, maybe that too).