PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – On Sunday, most of the country will spring its clocks forward one hour as daylight saving time begins. While the time change leaves many people feeling groggy and sleepy, pediatricians say it has a particularly profound impact on children.
At 2 a.m. Sunday, people in Oregon will be expected to move their clocks ahead to 3 a.m. This change means the mornings will be darker, but there will be more sunlight in the evenings.
Throughout the United States, people have said they’re tired of being tired from the time change. They don’t want to adjust their clocks anymore. In recent years, lawmakers in Oregon and Washington, along with those at the federal level, have thrown their support behind staying permanently in daylight savings time.
However, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine has adamantly opposed bills that would permanently place states or the country in daylight saving time. Experts say requiring humans to continue their regular schedules when there’s less sunshine in the morning isn’t natural for our circadian rhythm – or the 24-hour cycles that are part of the body’s internal clock.
“Morning light is really important for regulating our internal rhythm, our circadian rhythm, and so, when you move it forward, you’re losing that cue that tells us we need to wake up, we need to be aware, we need to be more functional during the day,” explained Dr. Gordon Gray Still, a pediatric sleep medicine provider at Randall Children’s Hospital in Portland.
The change can be especially hard on kids.
Teenagers, for example, go through a period where their circadian rhythm has the tendency for them to naturally wake up later and go to sleep later, Still says. In fact, some schools have been considering later start times due to expert advice.
With less light in the morning, Still says it’s harder for adolescents to feel ready and functional for school. The time change can also impact younger children, but Still thinks it’s more challenging for teenagers because of their natural tendency to wake up later.
There are some things families can do to help prepare children for the change.
Still says it’s best to start a week ahead, but any sort of gradual adjustment can be beneficial. He recommends parents encourage children to go to bed 15-20 minutes earlier each day leading up to the start of daylight saving time.
“In general, just slowly, incrementally going to bed a little earlier, maybe eating dinner a little earlier, just little changes like that might be helpful for the day we make that change,” Still said.
According to Northwestern Medicine, research shows that during the week after the shift to daylight saving time, there have been documented increases in cardiovascular disease, injuries and fatal car accidents, strokes, mental health and cognitive issues, and digestive and immune-related diseases.
Still says he fully supports the American Academy of Sleep Medicine’s recommendation to permanently stay in standard time and says it’s important to recognize that transitioning to daylight saving time has a profound impact on everybody.