Time change, Halloween a 'double whammy' for children's sleep this weekend
Ariana Birnbaum reads to put her five-year-old daughter Noa Brown to bed in Toronto on Wednesday, July 25, 2012. Birnbaum is firm on getting her children back into routines before school begins. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michelle Siu.
Published Thursday, October 29, 2015 7:12AM EDT
Attention, parents. While you might be looking forward to an extra hour of sleep as daylight time comes to an end this weekend, your children may have other plans.
Sleep experts say the combination of Halloween on Saturday night, followed by the time change early Sunday can greatly affect sleep patterns among youngsters.
"It's a double whammy," sleep educator Alanna McGinn, founder of the Good Night Sleep Site, told CTVNews.ca on Tuesday. "A lot of kids are going to be going to bed late on Halloween night, with bellies full of candy, and it kind of messes up their internal clocks."
Canadians in provinces that use daylight time during the summer months will switch back to standard time at 2 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 1 – turning the clocks back to 1 a.m.
Regions that don't use daylight time in Canada include most of Saskatchewan, and some communities in British Columbia.
Come Sunday night, McGinn said children may be going to bed at a time when their bodies are telling them that they should be awake.
She advises parents to start readying their kids for Sunday's time change by pushing their bedtimes back by 15 minutes a day, for four to five days ahead of the time change.
For instance, if your toddler typically goes to bed at 7 p.m., McGinn recommends keeping them up until 7:15 p.m. The next evening, push their bedtime back to 7:30 p.m., and continue to do so until they're comfortable going to bed at 8 p.m. By the time the hour rolls back on Sunday, McGinn says they should be adjusted.
For parents with babies and toddlers, this could mean pushing back naps and meal times as well.
"That way by the time we switch the clocks back, our internal clocks, our biological clocks, are already adjusted to the new times," McGinn said.
Other steps parents can take to help kids adjust to the time change include:
- Making sure children's rooms are dark
- Use a white noise machine to mask external sounds
- For older children, use a toddler clock that visually shows the time so they know it's not time to leave their room, even if they feel awake.
Adults affected by time change too
She said parents, too, should also take steps to prepare their own internal clocks for the extra hour.
"Back in the 'BK era' (before kids), we loved this time because we got this extra hour,” McGinn said. “But now when you throw kids in the mix, we don't really get that extra hour anymore, especially if you already have kids who struggle with sleep to begin with."
McGinn recommends staying away from electronics including TV, for an hour before heading to bed and keeping smartphones and other mobile devices off your bedside table.
"It's really important to keep consistent sleep patterns so these time changes don't affect as much."