How to Help Your Child Adjust to Daylight Saving Time

5 min to read
A girl basking in the sunshine

Daylight saving time (DST) is when we move clocks forward one hour, so daylight lasts longer into the evening. This happens annually on the second Sunday in March throughout the United States except Hawaii and Arizona. While the time shift gives us more hours of daylight, daylight saving for kids can be rough on their sleep schedule and impact their learning. As a parent or Learning Coach, there are things you can do to teach your student how to get used to daylight saving time and feel less groggy!

Explaining Daylight Saving Time to Kids

If your student is asking about the sudden time shift, here is how to explain DST to kids.

History of Daylight Saving Time

Daylight saving time can be traced back to the 19th century but exactly why we started changing time is still unknown. Some people attribute Daylight saving time to a New Zealand entomologist named George Hudson who proposed the idea to conserve energy and extend daylight hours during the summer. Others say it wasn’t until World War I that the idea of daylight saving time began to get some attention as a way to conserve fuel. In 1916, Germany became the first country to adopt daylight saving time with the United States following two years later.

The idea went through several variations until 1966 when the U.S. made daylight saving time official under the Uniform Time Act. This allows states to opt out of daylight saving time, but not to stay on it permanently. 

Most Americans now turn their clocks ahead at 2:00 A.M. on the second Sunday in March. On the first Sunday in November at 2:00 A.M., they turn their clocks back.  

How Does Daylight Saving Time Affect Children?

The loss of one hour of sleep during daylight saving time can create some cranky kids! It can make it more difficult for them to go to sleep at their usual bedtime and wake up when they’re supposed to—all due to the body’s circadian rhythms. 

The one-hour time shift during daylight saving time equals less exposure to light in the morning and more exposure to light at night. This means children may want to go to bed later, resulting in sleep loss when they need to wake up an hour earlier than they’re used to. When children’s circadian rhythms are disturbed, it not only leads to sleep deprivation but can also make it more difficult for children to focus during school and learn new skills.

An online school student on a laptop.

How to Help Your Student Adjust to Daylight Saving Time

Transition Slowly

Your student won’t always be able to adjust successfully to daylight saving time overnight, but you can help them make the transition gradually to avoid feeling tired after daylight saving time begins. 

Starting four days before the time change, scale their bedtime back 15 minutes. If your student goes to bed at 9 p.m., start with a new bedtime of 8:45 p.m. This will put them on track for getting to bed as close to 8 p.m. by the time DST begins. This will help them maintain an adequate amount of sleep and make it easier to stick to their online school schedule. According to the Centers for Disease Control, elementary and middle school children need 9-12 hours of sleep, while high schoolers should get 8-10 hours. 

Stick with a Bedtime Routine

Sticking to a bedtime routine is extremely important when daylight saving time begins. What your student does before bedtime is just as important as the time they get to bed because it prepares them to fall asleep.

For younger children, a warm bath, brushing teeth, followed by reading a book to avoid excess blue light before bed can all help to establish when it is time to go to sleep and make daylight saving for kids easier.

Teens can also follow a routine that can consist of reading, listening to music, journaling, meditating, or doing anything else that quiets the mind and body. When these things are done repeatedly at night before bed, the body knows that it’s time to get to sleep.

Control the Lights

The melatonin hormone that helps regulate the body’s internal circadian clock increases when it becomes dark in the evening, helping us fall asleep. It diminishes when it’s light out, making us feel more alert. Since daylight saving time makes it lighter for longer at night, it can impact this natural cycle, especially for children with early bedtimes. 

To make the transition to daylight saving easier for kids, make sure the lights in their room are dim or off completely. A small nightlight can help here. Also, turn off all electronics 30 minutes to one hour before bedtime. The use of electronic devices can make it more difficult to fall asleep and impact sleep quality. Room darkening shades can also help induce sleep.

If you find that it’s difficult to wake them up in the morning because it’s darker, make their room brighter by turning on the lights or letting in as much natural sunlight as possible early in the morning.

Help them Get Enough Exercise

Encourage your student to get enough exercise during the day. Research shows that it can improve sleep quality. Be sure not to exercise too close to bedtime because it can have an adverse effect. 

If the weather allows, exercise outside during the day since the sunlight can impact the body’s circadian rhythm. Being exposed to natural light during the day can help reset your student’s internal clock and prevent them from feeling tired after daylight saving time. When Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate, here are several indoor physical activities for them to try.

By trying one or several of these tips, your student can learn how to adjust to daylight saving time and avoid feeling tired after the time change.   

Students who have an online school schedule can have greater flexibility when daylight saving time begins. By starting their school day an hour later, they don’t have to feel sleep-deprived and can still get all of the benefits of their lessons.  Giving students more freedom with their schedules, especially after the time shift, can help them feel less stressed and more open to learning. Remember, the natural transition into daylight saving time is gradual for everyone, so try not to get impatient with your student during the process. Give them time to adjust so that they can get enough rest and stay on track with their learning. 

E-guide for Connections Academy with a green background and a graphic of a laptop with the purple eGuide.

Ready to Learn More

About Connections Academy?

Explore the benefits of attending Connections Academy, a tuition-free, accredited online public school that’s passionate about helping your child thrive.  

Get Your Free eGuide


Related Posts