How to get your family’s sleep hygiene in order, whether or not Daylight Saving Time becomes permanent
A Bloomington-Normal pediatrician says there’s a lot that parents and caregivers can do to improve kids’ sleeping habits, whether or not Congress moves ahead with making permanent Daylight Saving Time (DST).
This month the Senate passed the Sunshine Protection Act of 2021, which would make DST permanent. It would still need to pass the House and be signed by the president.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine praised the elimination of seasonal time changes, but it prefers a permanent Standard Time instead of DST. The medical group says Standard Time “aligns best with human circadian biology and provides distinct benefits for public health and safety.”
Permanent DST would mean later sunrises in certain parts of the country at certain times of year. The latest sunrises in Bloomington-Normal would be between 8 and 8:30 a.m.
The natural cycles of light help regulate our sleeping quite a bit, said Dr. Aaron Traeger, a pediatrician with Carle Health in Bloomington. He said those later sunrises would make it harder for parents and caregivers to get their kids up for school.
“But my kids are in Unit 5 schools,” Traeger said. “So they’re waking up in the dark most of the winter as it is already. And they do OK.”
Even if Congress acts, there’s a lot families still can control with sleep, Traeger said.
“If they change Daylight Saving (Time), your family’s gonna have to adjust, and how you handle that boils down to what your family finds important,” he said.
It’s important for parents and caregivers to model good sleep hygiene themselves, Traeger said. That includes turning your own screens off an hour or two before bedtime, and setting a regular bedtime for yourself. If you’re up playing video games at 11 p.m., it’s no wonder your kids are restless too.
“If you’re up (late) and your kids are hearing you up and moving around, it’s hard to get those good family rhythms down,” Traeger said.
And for kids who have a lot of screentime and are having trouble sleeping at night? Traeger recommends more physical activity.
“How about, as a family, getting out and doing some activities together? Try and get your heart rate up, so that you can wind down earlier at bedtime,” Traeger said.
And don’t wait until the first day of school in August to make bedtime and sleep adjustments, he said. Those changes take time and preparation, he said.
“You really should prepare for it and start trying to change your bedtime routine to get ready for those really big events, like the start of school coming up in August,” Traeger said.