Family

How to keep your kids from driving you crazy this daylight savings

An hour deficit in sleep is a massive thing for all of us, but for children in particular.

By Rebel Wylie
With mere days until we wind back the clocks and farewell daylight savings for another six months, panic is probably beginning to set in for those who like to catch their zzz's.
While adapting to the new schedule is not too tough for us adults, for babies and children the impact can be a little more dramatic.
And let's face it, if baby isn't sleeping, nobody is sleeping.
So we spoke with sleep expert Dr Carmel Harrington about how to best navigate the coming weeks while we get those sleep patterns back to normal, and asked just how it was that one hour could make such a huge difference.
"Because we're moving our body clock a whole hour overnight, our circadian rhythms that have been set up according to our body clock are forced to change," explains Dr Harrington, who is an A.H Beard sleep expert.
"It's worse when springing forward in spring time, because we have to force ourselves to get up earlier. When we fall back in autumn it can sort of feel as if you're getting a bit of a sleep in, but this time can be really difficult for children who naturally wake up earlier."
While it doesn't seem like an hour could make that much difference, when most of us aren't getting quite enough sleep already, an hour deficit can have a huge impact, particularly on little ones.
"Changes in daylight savings really impact children," agrees Dr Harrington.
"Their body clocks are set, and now we're asking them to fall asleep a whole hour earlier or later- the same with waking up.
"When the end of daylight savings rolls around in April it can be really hard for children to adjust to the later mornings. They'll want to wake up with the sun, so parents will have to make sure that they're changing bedtime and putting their children to bed at the appropriate time."
Sleep expert Dr Carmel Harrington shares her tips on surviving the tricky sleep situation when the clocks change. Image: Supplied.
When you and the kids are running on little sleep, it can feel like nothing is going to work, but Dr Harrington says a little bit of planning can go a long way in making the daylight savings transition go a little smoother.
"What parents have to do at this time of year (it depends whether you're falling back of going forward with the time change) is to get their children to go to sleep a little bit later and wake up a little bit later," she suggests.
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"This can be hard because children don't understand what's going on, and their body clocks will fight the change in routine," Dr Harrington said.
"At the end of daylight savings in autumn, parents should start preparing their children by gradually changing their sleep time by 15 minutes, encouraging them to go to bed a little bit later every night.
"This means that once the clocks tick over their body clocks will have adjusted and the change won't be such a shock.
"As adults we should do the same thing!"

Sleep expert Dr. Harvey Karp shares his top five tips to getting your little ones ready for daylight savings