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Are you willing to shift your clocks forward an hour this weekend? It's Sunday, March 12th at 2:00 AM in the United States.
"Daylight Saving Time just creeps up on me, for whatever reason," said Dr. Cora Collette Breuner (pediatrician at University of Washington's Department of Pediatrics in Seattle).
The time change is not observed by residents of Hawaii, Arizona, and US territories in the Pacific or Caribbean.
People who adjust their clocks may not like the idea of getting up an hour earlier. Experts recommend that you and your children start to adapt by going to bed earlier and then getting up at 15 to 20 minutes earlier every day for four days.
Dr. Raj Dasgupta is a sleep specialist and associate professor of clinical medicine at University of Southern California's Keck school of Medicine.
He suggested that you also adjust the times of your daily routines, which are time cues for yourself, such as meals and exercise.
It is a good idea to prepare in advance for teenagers who are programmed to sleep late and stay up late. This is especially true for those who are night owls like Dr. Phyllis Zee from the Center for Circadian & Sleep Medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
"It's never too late for you to get started," Dasgupta stated. Every child's response to time changes will be different. You, as a parent, should make sure that you get the rest you need so that you are not too upset with your child.
Move bed and set wake times
Breuner stated that younger children are more able to adapt to changes in time than older children or adults. Therefore, they might need to take fewer days to adjust.
Zee is also a professor in neurology at Feinberg. She said that for most children younger than 10, moving their wake and bedtimes by 10 to 15 minutes earlier, starting three days prior to the time change, can help them adjust to Monday's social clock change.
Dasgupta stated that if this doesn't happen, you can expect some grumpiness to help your child adjust.
He said, "In the days after Daylight Savings Time, I try more to be forgiving if my kid is having an additional temper tantrum,"
Breuner stated that there are many other ways caregivers and parents can help ease the transition. To reduce stress, lay out clothes and do homework before bed. In case of an emergency, it's a good idea for everyone to have a ready-to-eat breakfast.
"That way, they're eating on the bus or in their cars, rather than trying to eat a full-on breakfast. Everyone's like, "Whoa! It's an hour later," she said.
She also said that children should not be allowed to nap. "That only prolongs any adjustment to time change.
Let there be light
Experts say that the rising lightness in the morning can be a positive thing for everyone in the family. The brain signals to your eyes to stop melatonin from being released when light hits them. This hormone is responsible for putting you to sleep.
Zee stated, 'Get morning-bright sunlight for 20-30 minutes shortly after you wake up. For the remainder of the day, increase bright light exposure at work, school, and home.
Zee stated that this strategy is especially important for teens and night owls. They should continue doing it before Daylight Savings Time begins to aid in adaptation to the new time.
Breuner recommends that you make a "real hard rule" about keeping TVs, smartphones, laptops and gaming devices out of your bedroom.
She stated that devices should be turned off and charged away from the bed regardless of whether they are in the kitchen or another area.
Breuner stated that melatonin is not secreted to help us sleep when staring at the light.
Don't let teens fall for the "I need my smartphone for an alarm in morning, and it helps to go to bed at night" trap. Get up, grab your iPod and start listening to music. Then you can set an alarm clock.
Not getting enough sleep can lead to serious problems for children who are suffering from anxiety or depression. She stated that the likelihood of a child experiencing worse behavioral health outcomes is greater.
Let there be darkness
Zee stated that the same rules about light apply to the evening but in reverse. Avoid bright lights for at least three hours prior to bedtime. This will help your own melatonin levels rise and promote sleep.
Zee said that light-blocking curtains or shades can help to ensure that your bedroom is conducive to sleep. Make sure to dim the lights in your bedroom and opt for LED lights with more reddish-brownish tones.
All blue-colored lights, including those from electronic devices such as tablets, smartphones and laptops, should be banned from your bedroom. Blue light is the most stimulating, signaling the brain to get up.
Keep the bedroom cool and dark once you're done sleeping. Light can get in even if your eyes are closed.
This is what Zee found in a 2022 sleep lab experiment that placed healthy young adults in their 20s. A single night of sleep with only a dim light, such a TV with the sound off, increased blood sugar and heart rate even though eyes were closed.
Zee also found that any amount of light can be exposed to in a second study.