The clocks changing in spring can wreak havoc with your little one’s sleep schedule. Try these five survival strategies to help you avoid problems when the clocks change…
1) Changing bedtime by stealth
By sneakily moving your little one’s bedtime routine a few minutes earlier each night in the week before the clocks change, you can gradually move them towards the new ‘correct’ bedtime. Four days before the clocks change, start by moving bedtime 15 minutes earlier each day and waking them up 15 minutes earlier each day. So if they normally sleep 7:30pm-7am make the first shift to 7:15pm and 6:45am and so on. Doing this step-by-step is not as much as a shock to the system as it is when you abruptly expect your child to fall asleep an hour earlier after the time change.
TOP TIP: Don’t forget to adjust meal and nap times by the same amount as well.
2) Go with the flow
Alternatively, you can do nothing and wait for your little one’s body to adjust to the new timings naturally. In the days following daylight saving time, try to be more forgiving if your child is throwing extra temper tantrums and seems to be particularly frustrated or difficult in any way. Stay strong and things will settle down again!
3) Stick to a routine
Make sure your little one has a familiar ‘wind-down’ bedtime routine every night. This is a powerful signal for sleep and it’s especially important to stick to as daylight saving time begins. One option is to give your child a warm bath, read a book and have a cuddle together before lights out.
4) Control the lights
Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate your body’s internal circadian clock. It increases in the evening as it becomes dark which helps induce sleep. If the extra hours of daylight in the evenings are a problem, blackout blinds in your little one’s room can help to make it feel like night time. You can also make sure lights are dimmed and you avoid outdoor play and exposure to screens for at least an hour before bedtime.
TOP TIP: In the morning, get your child as much natural sunlight as possible.
5) Use it to your advantage
If your little one currently wakes up at an uncivilized hour like 4-5am, spring daylight savings can be a welcome relief. You will change your clocks but make no change to their schedule. Instead of sleeping 7pm-5am, they will now be sleeping 8pm-6am. This will not only mean longer in bed in the morning but it will also give you an extra hour of cuddle time in the evening.
TOP TIP: Ensure your child’s bedroom is completely dark in the morning by using blackout blinds. Light is a very powerful wakeup cue so even the smallest amount of sunlight can wake your child up.
So there you have it, five top tips for you to beat the clocks change in a couple of weeks.
Do let me know how you get on and what works best for you.