Health

Are you ready to change your clocks?

At 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, November 2nd, 2014, we’ll return to Standard Time, which means one more hour of sleep and a possible disruption of our sleeping patterns.

All across Canada, except in Saskatchewan and some parts of British Columbia, clocks are adjusted forward one hour on the second Sunday of March at 2:00 a.m., and turned back one hour on the first Sunday of November. Although the change officially occurs at 2:00 a.m., the easiest solution is to change all your clocks and electronic devices before going to bed to avoid experiencing a temporary state of panic in the morning.

Changing time also means changing the batteries in your smoke detectors. It's a good habit to change them twice a year and it will give you a reccurent deadline!

When we move to the Daylight Changing Time, the impact is smaller. "In reality, we are not really affected. This time change in the spring is easier than the one in the fall, because it pushes time forward", says sleep specialist Brigitte Langevin.

Studies show that older children are the ones who react most intensely to time changes because their life is set by rhythms and routines. Babies can  suffer from some kind of jet-lag, but they’ll get used to it relatively quickly. However, Brigitte Langevin believes that the change can be easily managed if parents maintain the original sleep patterns. “If they keep putting the kids to bed and waking them at the same time from the first day on, they will get used to the new time in about 24 hours.” Of course, in the spring, we’re under the illusion that kids are getting up an hour later, and it’s mostly in the fall that we think they’re getting up too early. “At this point, if you go wake them up, you give way to a bad habit ... Children are creatures of habits, so we must maintain their rhythm and avoid giving in", says Brigitte Langevin.

Advice

  • Put the kids to bed and wake them at the usual time (not at the old time);
  • Maintain the sleep patterns;
  • Expect the first day to be more difficult, but for everything to go back to normal very quickly ;
  • Get used to taking naps.
“It’s still light outside, I don’t want to go to bed! "

Longer days can give parents headaches when their children refuse to go to bed. Our brain adjusts to brightness and the sun. Some children are still stimulated even at their usual bedtime because the sun is still shining. It would be easy to give in and push the bedtime a little later, but ultimately, fatigue will appear anyway. And if a child is tired, his parents will most likely suffer the consequences!

The environment also has an impact on sleep. When the sun is shining longer, it misleads the brain, and that’s why parents must get around the situation by installing opaque curtains that will make it easier for children to fall asleep”, says Langevin.

When going back to Standard Time, in fall, the process is reversed. Lacking light affects us all at different levels but it is common to feel more tired between November and March. Children are no different and need their naps to recuperate during the day.

What about adults?

If we’re already short on sleep, changing time can affect us even more. “For a person who doesn’t sleep well, missing an hour of sleep is enough to cause a more intense effect of fatigue”, says the expert. Is that a trivial reason to complain? We don’t know. But if we don't want times changes to mess up our sleeping cycle or intensify our fatigue, we can go for… naps ! We never take enough naps. Many parents ask me when they can start cutting their child’s naps, but the truth is that we should all take time to nap. Of course, naps will not have the same duration: 45 minutes for 4-5 year olds, and about 20 minutes for adults but on a daily basis, they would do us good! Our bodies are asking for it. After lunch, our temperature decreases, and so does our attention. “Taking a nap would be appropriate at that moment, but if you can’t do it every day, napping between 1:30 and 2:00 p.m. on Sundays would allow you to eliminate some of the sleeping deficit you’ve accumulated during the week”, suggests Langevin. Her only warning: Never take a nap between 5 :00 p.m. and 6 :00 p.m., otherwise it will affect your night sleep and disturb your sleeping cycle.”

So here’s a recommendation that will help you through the following weeks: on the Sunday afternoon that follows time changes, make sure that everyone takes a nap!

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