Are You and Your Children Ready to Fall Back?


Prepare Your Family For The End of Daylight Saving Time


At 2 a.m. on Sunday, November 1, 2015, it’s time to once again turn back your clock to signify the end of Daylight Savings time. That means, practically, you’ll want to go to sleep on Saturday night, October 31st, with the clock already turned back.


Children and adults have different responses to this yearly autumn ritual and it’s important to know how to respond for all ages.


Yes setting the clock back, “falling back,” for adults means that you’ll get that “extra hour of sleep” when you awake on Sunday morning – unless you translate that “extra hour” into an “extra hour” to, oh, let’s see, EXERCISE? You’ll get an extra hour of sunlight in the morning, and most agree that it’s easier to adjust to this time change than the one that comes in the spring when we turn our clocks forward.


Let me explain why I put quotes around the so-called, “extra hour” of sleep we have been marketed into believing we get. The truth is that a minority of folks actually take advantage of turning the clock back and sleeping more. Many more have sleep disruption during the days following turning back the clock.


Like adults, older children and teens have no serious problem adjusting to the time change. But toddlers, infants and small children will have more difficulty with “falling back.” Interrupted sleep, irritability, sleepiness during the day, trouble falling asleep—these are common responses in youngsters to the fall change in time.


What’s the best way for adults to adjust to the change coming on November 1st?


  1. Exercise

The earlier in the day you exercise, the better. The neurotransmitter, serotonin, will be released and give you a boost in adjusting to the change in time. Exercising in the evening may make it more difficult to sleep during the initial time adjustment.


  1. When to prepare?

There are conflicting opinions here. Some say don’t change at all until November 1st and use the “extra hour” as a much needed added hour of sleep. Others say no, give yourself several days ahead to prepare by actually resetting your clock on Friday morning, readjusting your meals and going to bed an hour earlier. I say that’s a bit unrealistic. Follow your instinct. Most folks don’t prepare and simply use the “extra hour” as a bit of a “staycation” in the morning.


  1. Sunlight

Like many people, you’ll feel a bit ruffled for a couple of days, almost like jet lag, especially when you leave work at a normal time with the sun already setting. Be sure you purposefully find a way to soak up a few extra rays by taking a walk outside if possible, keeping the shades open early in the morning, and keeping those bulbs indoors burning brightly. You might want to check out what a light therapy box can do for you.  It’s a blue light that more closely mimics sunlight to keep melatonin at bay. Remember that in the evening, it’s time to dim those lights and close those shades.


  1. Melatonin

Speaking of melatonin, consider adding a low dose of a few milligrams to your pre-bedtime routine to help you naturally calm down and fall asleep and more comfortably regulate your sleep-wake cycle.


  1. Food

Many adults report that eating complex carbohydrates, such as pasta, help promote relaxation and associated sleepiness. Consider a dinner of pasta and chamomile tea to help to produce a calming effect.


Regarding children, one study of 23,000 children ages 5 to 16 from 9 countries including the US reported that every lost hour of daylight corresponded to a 5% decline in the children’s activity level. Even this small amount of decreased activity has its impact. The more sunlight hours children have, and the more they can be active, the better their circadian rhythm can adjust to the time change.



3 Tips For Helping Your Children Get To Sleep


  1. Slow transition

Move bedtime and napping up about 15 minutes each day for a couple of days before the change in the clock.


  1. Nap

Naps are required for children younger than four years old, so be sure your toddler enjoys solid a naptime.


  1. Wakeful times

Babies and small children may want to wake up earlier than normal, so be sure their rooms are dark, cool, and of course, quiet. They may need gentle rocking, reassurance, a soothing bedtime routine and a calm approach to help them maintain their proper sleep-wake balance.


Be sure you use the end of Daylight Savings Time to do the standard things that turning the clocks back an hour remind us to do: check and replace the batteries in smoke detectors, get the emergency kit ready for your car if you live in climates where that’s necessary, replace the bulbs in your outdoor home lights, and prepare for the upcoming holidays, parties, gift shopping and yes, of course, dieting.


Ben Franklin reminded us, “Lost time is never found again.” So regardless of what time it is, how light it is when you wake up, or how dark it is when you leave work, focus on what’s going right, fill yourself with gratitude for another day, and pack it with the best you that you can bring.


Dr. Michael Mantell

Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D. has been providing psychological and coaching services for nearly 5 decades and continues to empower positive change among his global clients to enhance life in every way. He is a highly sought-after healthcare professional coach, an executive and team building consultant, and a longtime specialist in cognitive behavioral coaching.

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