herald

Thursday 14 November 2019

'No more clock changes will help young children sleep better'

Children need 12 hours' sleep
Children need 12 hours' sleep

The EU's decision to end seasonal clock changes will help young children get a good night's sleep, an expert believes.

The European Parliament's transport and tourism committee voted earlier this week to scrap the practice by 2021.

EU states, including Ireland, must now decide by April next year whether they will choose permanent summer time or permanent winter time.

Changing the clock twice a year has often led to sleep challenges for parents and young children, but life on that front might now become easier following the EU's decision.

Consultation conducted by the European Commission revealed that more than 80pc of people favoured abolishing seasonal clock changes.

Lucy Wolfe, of the Sleep Matters Clinic in Cork, welcomed the move.

She said that while adults can recover within seven to 10 days of the twice-yearly clock change, a child's routine may be severely disrupted, resulting in night-time waking and sleep resistance that can take months to correct.

"Parents would welcome one fixed time," said Ms Wolfe.

She said moving the clocks forward would be best because this challenges the system less.

Complicated

"It would be easier if we don't need to contend with shifting things back and forth.

"It would be one less complication in the complicated nuances of sleep," she said.

Ms Wolfe said light encourages waking and darkness encourage sleep.

"Brighter mornings can lead to early rising, but that can be addressed by using blackout blinds.

"Brighter evenings, although very welcome, can sometimes make it harder for children to go to sleep at bedtime."

The HSE recommends that children should get up to 12 hours of sleep each night.

"Sleep and health go hand in hand from childhood," said Ms Wolfe.

"Developing good habits around sleep for children will follow into later life.

"If the continuous summer time is introduced, parents will just need to be mindful of addressing bedtime before their child is overtired.

"It is also nice to think that the evenings may be longer all year round, provided we can ensure that no unnecessary accidents happen in the darker mornings."

A study in the US suggested that parents worried more about daylight savings than their tax return, said Ms Wolfe.

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