How to help children adjust to daylight saving time change, improve sleep quality

ByABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Monday, March 4, 2024
2024 daylight saving: How to help children adjust to time change
Pediatric sleep specialist Dr. Innessa Donskoy joined to discuss helping children adjust to losing an hour of sleep during the time change, and why limiting screen time is necessary.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Clocks will turn forward an hour on Sunday for the start of daylight saving time, meaning we will be losing an hour of sleep.

The time change can be difficult for those with young kids.

Dr. Innessa Donskoy, a pediatric sleep medicine specialist at Advocate Children's Hospital, joined ABC7 Chicago to share some advice for those with children who might struggle to sleep.

Donskoy recommends using the week leading up to daylight saving time to slowly wake up 10-15 minutes earlier each day, so the change doesn't feel as shocking to your system.

"It might seem slight, but these slow, gradual changes are much easier for our internal brain clock to handle. So, by the time we get to Sunday morning, it feels a lot less painful," she said.

RELATED: Tips for easing into Daylight Saving Time when we spring forward March 10

Donskoy explained that this slow transition is necessary because it is important for children to sleep the same number of hours every night in order to feel their best.

"A school-aged child will need about nine to 11 hours of sleep, and then those older adolescents need about eight to 10," she said.

Avoiding screen time before bed is another way to make sure children are getting a restful night's sleep.

Sunlight in the morning helps our nervous systems become alert and wake up for the day. Light from screens has a similar effect, and can be detrimental to sleep patterns.

"Exposure to light, especially blue light in the evening hours really suppresses our body's own melatonin production," Donskoy said. "It can make it very hard to fall asleep."

Donskoy explained that swapping screen time out for habits like reading or listening to music before bed can help kids wind down, process their day and ultimately sleep better.