Here comes the sun; there goes an hour of sleep

Here comes the sun; there goes an hour of sleep

When clocks go ahead at 2 a.m. Sunday, we'll all be giving up one hour of sleep for more sunshine the rest of the day. Seems like a fair trade. Unless you're the parent of young children. Then sleep is probably more precious than food, water and personal hygiene — combined.

Corner Brook pediatrician Tricia Feener says while everyone adapts to the time change differently, generally preschoolers are the most affected. They need more sleep and losing an hour means they can be more tired and a little more irritable.

That's a worst-case scenario for most parents. Feener says luckily there are ways to mitigate the impacts. 

Surviving daylight savings

The No. 1 tip Feener has for parents of young kids is to get them to bed on time and not fall prey to a common misbelief. 

"Some people think that if you keep your child up later on Saturday evening that they might sleep a little later on Sunday morning and things will go a little smoother," she told CBC's Corner Brook Morning Show. "But that's absolutely a rotten approach."

Feener says children tend to go to sleep easier and stay asleep much better if they're not overtired. she recommends having an active day and putting them to bed at a sensible hour.

'Here comes the night'

Of course with daylight savings every day is a little longer and every evening a little brighter. Consequently, that makes bedtime a little trickier.

But Feener says stay true your schedule and invest in some heavy curtains.

The sleep/wake cycle is regulated by melatonin levels in the brain. Feener says darkness triggers that melatonin and sunlight shuts it off. By dimming the lights and using room darkening shades, parents can get a message to those pre-school brains that it's time to start powering down for the night. 

"It's also very important not allowing your child to have electronics an hour before bedtime," she adds. 

A light at the end of the tunnel

Feener says ideally, parents would have started gradually shifting bedtimes and wake-up times before this weekend. But she adds they can also do it after the time changes as well.

Of course another option is send them to Nan and Pop's for a sleepover.