AUSTIN (KXAN) — For a lot of people, this is a great weekend. They gain an hour of sleep when the clocks turn back Sunday morning. For people who have small children, it’s a totally different story.
Babies and toddlers don’t care about the time change. They wake up when they wake up.
The obvious answer is to just put them to bed later Saturday night, but that might not work.
According to an analysis by the makers of the sleep tracking app, Huckleberry, more than a third of kids woke up at least 30 minutes early in the morning after the time change, even if they were put to bed later the night before.
For example, kids who normally wake up at 7 a.m., woke up at 6:30 a.m. — even if they went to bed later.
They found 18% of kids woke up an hour earlier.
So what do you do?
“Routine is really important,” says Dr. Shirlene Samuel, a pediatrician at Austin Regional Clinic.
Samuel recommends parents keep the same bedtime routine. If you don’t have a set routine, she recommends starting. If you already have a consistent routine, now is not the time to change.
The key, she says, is to gradually move that routine later.
“15-minute increments have been found to be helpful.”
Here’s an example for a baby/toddler that normally goes to bed at 7 p.m.:
- Wednesday – 7:15 p.m.
- Thursday – 7:30 p.m.
- Friday – 7:45 p.m.
- Saturday – 8 p.m.
Older kids are less likely to be affected by the time change, but Samuel says sleep is critical for their health. But studies show most kids aren’t getting enough.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, only 40% of kids age 6-12 get the recommended 9-12 hours of sleep a night. Teenagers are worse. Only 30% get the recommended 8-10 hours of sleep a night.
The results can be poor grades and behavior problems in school.
Samuel says doctors in her practice check for sleep problems before treating children for ADHD and other behavior issues.