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Spring Forward: Best Ways to Prepare Your Kids for Daylight Saving

Hilary Pearson, M.D., medical director of the Sleep Laboratory at Cook Children’s, informs parents of the effects Daylight Saving may have on their kids and provides tips to help parents prepare.

By Tatiyana Giddings

Daylight Saving is approaching, which can be difficult for kids because they will be losing an hour of sleep. With kids having a greater sleep need, one hour can affect them even if that is a small percentage of their total amount of sleep.

The loss of that hour can be hard on the body, Hilary Pearson, M.D., medical director of the Sleep Laboratory at Cook Children's said. 

"I think it's hard because you are asking your body to do a phase shift," Dr. Pearson said. "Most bodies get really entrenched in when they fall asleep and when they wake up, particularly when we wake up and it’s hard to shift that an hour either direction." 

Dr. Pearson said kids' bodies and brains work better with a schedule, and when you change that schedule, you ask a lot of their body, biological, and emotional processes. Some children can handle the changes, but most cannot.  

Taking advantage of the time your kids have off during spring break will be beneficial in getting them back into their routine sleep schedule. Dr. Pearson suggests waking your child up in 20 minute increments each day until you reach that full hour.

The adjustments will help your kids adapt to the change without noticing much of a difference, which is extremely helpful in school-aged children because it can affect the way they learn. 

Dr. Pearson said kids above the age of six months go through stage three sleep or deep sleep, which happens in the first half of the night, and REM sleep or dreaming sleep which comes in chunks in the second half of the night. 

 "So, we need our deep sleep in that first half of the night to help our bodies feel ready, and you definitely need your dreaming sleep," Dr. Pearson said. That's when you learn, that's when you file away memories, and you need all that REM sleep in order to learn." 

Dr. Pearson encourages parents to explain the changes to their kids, and when you wake them up in the morning, make it fun and listen to music to get them going.  

"Put them maybe 15 minutes earlier to bed but say, ‘When I come get you in the morning, you're going to feel a little bit tired because we had Daylight Saving and it's a little bit earlier,’ so at least they know," Dr. Pearson said.

Daylight Saving Tips: 

  • Try not to let your kids nap in the daytime. 
  • Talk about it with your kids.
  • Get back to your regular routine as quickly as you can. 
  • Try to get your kids sunlight in the morning. 
  • Keep your kids off electronics before bed.

About Cook Children's

Cook Children’s Health Care System embraces an inspiring Promise – to improve the health of every child through the prevention and treatment of illness, disease and injury. Based in Fort Worth, Texas, we’re proud of our long and rich tradition of serving our community. Our not-for-profit organization is comprised of nine companies, including our Medical Center, Physician Network, Home Health company, Northeast Hospital, Pediatric Surgery Center, Health Plan, Health Services Inc., Child Study Center and Health Foundation. With more than 60 primary, specialty and urgent care locations throughout Texas, families can access our top-ranked specialty programs and network of services to meet the unique needs of their child. For 100 years, we’ve worked to improve the health of children from across our primary service area of Denton, Hood, Johnson, Parker, Tarrant and Wise counties. We combine the art of caring with leading technology and extraordinary collaboration to provide exceptional care for every child. This has earned Cook Children’s a strong, far-reaching reputation with patients traveling from around the country and the globe to receive life-saving pediatric care. For more information, visit