How does time change affect children?
How does time change affect children?
In the months of March or April, depending on the countries of the northern hemisphere, it is time to change the time. We only have to advance our watches 60 minutes, but this simple gesture can alter our routines and, above all, those of the smallest in the house. Pediatricians explain how to approach it. In Spain, this change is this weekend, at dawn on Sunday
There are many countries that advance their clocks during the months of March and April to adapt to daylight saving time. This supposes that, with the change of schedule, it will dawn later and it will also get dark later so that in the afternoon there will be one more hour of sunlight.
Although in principle, it may seem that 60 minutes is not too long, this change is enough to have several days a little out of place. Why? The answer is in our circadian rhythms.
Synchronize our biological clock
“Circadian rhythms are biological cycles that last about 24 hours and are the product of the biological clock that synchronizes these rhythms (for example, renal function, the plasma concentration of hormones such as melatonin or cortisol or the wakefulness cycle). I dream) with the external environment (for example, the light-dark cycle, meal times or social time) ”, explains María José Collado Mateo, doctor of Psychology and co-director of the Fourth Accountants center, located in the Madrid municipality from Leganés (Spain).
“We can help our biological clock synchronize daily, especially through ambient light. Exposing ourselves to bright light in the morning will advance our biological rhythms and allow us to adapt better to the morning requirements, while the light at the beginning of the night will delay our biological rhythms and make nighttime sleep difficult, ”says the specialist.
In addition to the light, the psychologist emphasizes that it is essential to maintain regular sleep schedules every day of the week.
In this regard, it emphasizes that you should try to get enough sleep and avoid accumulating a “sleep debt” during the weekdays.
“This is especially relevant because it is usual that, to recover this debt of sleep, we get up late during the weekend and this will favor that then we do not fall asleep until late and, therefore, especially the night from Sunday to Monday, we sleep fewer hours than we need and we are dragging this debt throughout the week, ”he says.
These tips are especially important on the weekend in which we must change the time. Although the change is made on the night from Saturday to Sunday to minimize the impact, its effect is usually noticed for several days, mainly in the case of children.
“The biological clock of children can take several days to adjust, even a week, causing disturbances in wakefulness and sleep, appetite disorder, irritability,
The pediatrician remembers that the organism has an internal central clock “that is regulated by sunlight and environmental stimuli, such as feeding and physical activity schedules. This internal central clock adjusts a daily cycle that affects the levels of hormones and our entire body, so when the rhythm of external light changes or the rhythm of tasks, it can become disoriented. ”
Thus, to help children get used to the new schedule, specialists from the Spanish Association of Pediatrics offer several recommendations:
- Progress progressively, one week before the time change, routine activities such as food, sleep or games, at intervals of 10 or 15 minutes, to make the transition smoother.
- Promote the entry of natural light or powerful light 15 minutes before waking children or walking to school to stimulate serotonin secretion.
- Good breakfast in a very bright stay.
- Avoid exposure to screens one hour before bedtime.
These are some habits that can help prevent small changes due to time changes, according to specialists.
But, “above all, parents should make use of patience and understanding, knowing that it is a transitory situation,” says Dr. Pin.
In the days after the time change, children, and especially teenagers, usually sleepless time.
“Young people maintain bedtime before the change, which results in a decrease in sleeping hours during adaptation to the new summertime,” says the doctor.
In the case of babies, the pediatrician comments that his internal central clock “is operational after five or six months and is regulated, in part, through breastfeeding, since at night breast milk has a higher amount of melatonin, the hormone that facilitates sleep. ”