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  • Writer's pictureAmanda Smyth, LCSW

Sleep: the Nemesis of Daylight Savings

Sleep is the foundation of emotional (& physical) health. With springing forward and losing an hour of sleep every one knows we are in for some suffering. Whether you are a parent or not you know this week is tough, your body's sleep patterns are about to be throw in chaos as we try to adjust. Ideally we prepare for this time, slowly adjusting in our sleep/wake times by 15 min increments every week beginning in March. But, lets be honest, most of are living by putting one foot in front of the other, not planning our wake/sleep times a month out! Instead let's take this time to reflect and see what kind of sleep foundation we have.

Although the following is geared towards children, we can apply these signs below to ourselves as well.

You know your child is NOT getting enough sleep if He/She:

  • Must be woken in the morning

  • Frequently melts down over seemingly “little things”

  • Experiences stomach or head aches

  • Is more anxious than usualIs crabby, clingy, uncooperative in the morning

  • Craves carbohydrates

  • Cannot get along with others during late afternoons

  • Needs more attention to stay on task

  • Talks excessively

  • Struggles to eat well, especially at dinner

  • Gets sick more frequently

  • Is frenzied and hyper – especially at bedtime

  • Is easily frustrated- nothing is right

  • Falls apart during transitions or when surprised

You know your child IS getting enough sleep if he/she:

  • Awakens on his/her own

  • Is generally happy

  • Is cooperative in the morning

  • Listens well

  • Stays focused on tasks

  • Is healthier

  • Can easily solve problems with you

  • Can wait his/her turn

  • Gets along well with others – even late afternoons

  • Falls asleep easily at night

  • Is more patient

  • Eats well at meals

  • Can deal with changes in routine or surprises quite well

Guidelines for how much sleep is needed by age:

  • Preschoolers (3 to 5 years): Should average 10 to 13 hours per day.

  • School-age children (6 to 13 years): Should average 9 to 11 hours per day.

  • Teenagers (14 to 17 years): Should average eight to 10 hours per day.

  • Younger adults (18 to 25 years old): Should average seven to nine hours per day.

  • Adults (26 to 64): Should average seven to nine hours per day.

  • Older adults (age 65 and over): Should average seven to nine hours per day.

Some quick tips for better sleep:

Personal devices such as phones and tablets are one of the biggest culprits that interfere with restorative sleep. It has been found time and time again that the light emitted tricks the brain to think it's earlier in the day and it is not time for sleep, delaying the melatonin reponse that needs to happen. Using programs like Flux or Night Shift can help to dim lights automatically, but its best to stay off these devices a few hours before bed and keep them out of the bedroom all together. It is also important to note, that it is possible to appear to be sleeping through the night, but the restorative level of sleep is not reached, so give the elimination of devices a try if there are symptoms of poor sleep occurring in your home.

Parent's who stay connected with their child through the night/bed time routine have children who get to sleep at a consistent time. Wake and Sleep times are also best when they don't vary more than 30 mins from day to day, say on the weekends vs the weekdays.

Consider that foods/drinks are interfering with sleep.

Get outside and see the sun within an hour of waking... here's why.

For more on setting a bedtime routine to encourage restorative sleep can be found here and here

Still feel like you are getting a full nights sleep but not feeling restored for a new day, check this article out for other life style changes you can try or medical issues may need to be ruled out.

Sweet Dreams!

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