I wait for the clocks to go forward pretty much the day they are set back. I hate the dark evenings, and I love it when March comes around, and the nights and mornings get a bit brighter, I’m always full of the joys of spring. Since having children, the lost hour has been tricky at times. We asked Sleep Advisor Dave Gibson to give us some top tips on managing the clock change!
- Move Bedtime Earlier
Start to move bedtime a few days before the clocks change – 7pm will become 6pm so it’s earlier to bed! Babies and young toddlers tend to be affected by the change more than older children. As a general rule, 10 minutes over 6 days should work for babies, and 15 minutes over 4 days for children. Each child is different and parents know best, so you will be the best judge when it comes to how many changes your child will need.
- Bedtime Routine is Key
A regimented bedtime routine throughout the year helps with these disruptions. If your children know that the path to sleep is tidy-up time, bath time and reading time then moving these signals ahead a few minutes will mean they still understand what should happen next. To help soothe them further, try including lavender oil in their bath or on their pillow, or light stretching before bed to help them relax.
- Plan an Active Saturday
Plan an active Saturday so your children are tired and ready for an earlier bedtime. Get outside in the sunlight and fresh air. Plan for vigourous activities like swimming, bike rides or walks in the woods in the early afternoon – they should be ready for bed a bit earlier. If you have a young baby then try moving their afternoon nap slightly earlier – so if bedtime has been 10 minutes earlier per day, so should their nap times.
- Morning Routine Signals
Getting to sleep on cue means waking up on cue too. Open the blinds in your child’s room every morning, so that they associate this act with waking up. Also, light is our natural alarm clock; it stops our bodies producing the sleep hormone melatonin, enabling us to wake up.
- Patience is a Virtue!
You know what they say about the best laid plans… just don’t worry too much. Your children will get back to their usual routine; it might just take a few later nights and grouchy mornings. If all else fails, some couples find it easier if one partner goes to bed earlier, then that partner can pick up any particularly early mornings during the transition.
Early to Rise? If you have an early riser the clocks going forward is a good time to readjust your child. Only change the time by half an hour, or leave it completely so a child waking at 5.30am becomes 6.30am (in theory) – much more reasonable!