Helping Your Kids Get to Sleep after They ‘Spring Forward’
Medical Director of Sleep Lab gives advice on helping your child after losing an hour of sleep
Many of your kids will be losing an hour of sleep heading into Spring Break, so start planning now.
That’s the advice of Hilary Pearson, M.D., medical director of the Sleep Laboratory at Cook Children’s.
“Sunday is ‘spring forward,’ so we all lose one hour of overnight time,” Dr. Pearson said. “To prepare for that, parents should start putting their kids to bed 15 to 20 minutes earlier now, so that the loss of sleep on Sunday is less than one hour.”
Dr. Pearson said the trick is to try to reset your body clock as much as possible by going to bed early for about a week, even after the time change. Then gradually adjust your bedtime back to normal in 20 minute increments until reaching the goal of your child’s normal bedtime and overnight sleep.
With next week spring break for a lot of students, it may be harder to get your child on a schedule at all. But Dr Pearson advises using the spring break week to get back to your normal sleep routine gradually.
Elementary age kids should be getting 10 hours of sleep nightly and teenagers should be getting about nine and a half hours.
“Ensuring that your kids aren’t sleep deprived before the loss of an hour is helpful,” Dr. Pearson said. “Watching caffeine intake in the afternoon is also critical. Realize that none of us will be feeling ‘back to normal’ for around a week while our internal clocks reset.”
Dr. Pearson encourages parents to keep electronics out of the hand of your kids for at least an hour prior to bed, simplify the morning routine as much as possible during that first week back to school and avoid naps.
“I know kids will want to take a nap because they may be tired after losing an hour sleep, but it’s better to avoid napping during the day to make sleeping at night easier,” Dr. Pearson said.
Get to know Hilary Pearson, M.D.
Dr. Pearson is the medical director for the Sleep Center at Cook Children's. She leads six highly trained polysomnography technologists on staff. Dr. Pearson works closely with other Cook Children's specialists and the Sleep Center staff to provide clinical consultation and comprehensive management of pediatric sleep-related disorders.
"I chose to go into pediatric sleep medicine because I enjoy seeing the quality of a child’s life improve even after they’ve had a serious illness," Dr. Pearson said. "Kids are so resilient! Sleep medicine issues can affect healthy children as well as chronically ill patients and I get to help patients with a variety conditions. I love being at Cook Children’s because the focus is on the family, and it’s always better for the child when you can really work together as a team.
"During my time away from work, I like to cook, play with my kids and watch Texas Ranger games!"