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Sleep, Stanford News

Helping kids ‘spring forward’

I hate to gloat, but my little girl has always been a great sleeper. Like clockwork, she goes to bed every night by 9 p.m. and wakes up just before I head out the door for work. Worried about the upcoming daylight-saving time causing any sleep disruptions to her schedule (and mine), I turned to Stanford sleep expert Rafael Pelayo, MD. He offered the following advice on ‘springing forward’ and how parents can make the transition smoother for kids when the clocks change Sunday at 2 a.m.

In addition to these recommendations offered by his colleague Clete Kushida, MD, PhD, Pelayo suggests parents pay close attention to kids’ nightly TV, video and Internet use:

A recent National Sleep Foundation poll showed that 95 percent of those surveyed use electronics within an hour of bedtime. For baby boomers this means TV but for younger generations it is Internet and texting. Approximately 18 percent of teenagers report their sleep is interrupted by phone calls or text message a few nights a week. I would recommend that some of the evening screen time be transferred to the morning. In other words, let the child play video games when they wake up – this increases the bright light in the morning and decreases the light exposure at bedtime.

He also advises parents to use daylight-saving time as an opportunity to talk to children about the importance of sleep. Or, if they’re too young to grasp the concepts, such as the case with my 9-month-old daughter, then we as parents should remind ourselves about the health benefits of getting adequate sleep:

In general, children try to make up the sleep they miss during the week over the weekend. This is an unhealthy strategy. Children must view getting more sleep as a cornerstone of health. It is just as important, if not more important, than nutrition and exercise. In the end, parents must ask themselves and their children: Do you wake up feeling refreshed? If not, then something is wrong. Remember: Sleeping is not an inconvenience. It should be delicious.

I’m crossing my fingers that reading Goodnight Moon an hour earlier will do the trick.

Previously: Tips for not losing sleep over daylight-saving time
Photo by Raul A.

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