Before children, you probably never gave daylight saving time a second thought but now you're a parent, there's nothing you hate more (well, except for maybe when your child stiffens their whole body when you're trying to get them in their car seat!). To help your children adjust to the clock change we have some simple tips for you!
When the clocks change, it can negatively impact your child's mood and routine. Children who were able to fall asleep quickly at 7 pm may now find themselves becoming restless or waking much earlier. With the clocks due to go back on 30th October make sure that you are prepared. In this post, we give you some tips and tricks to help your little one adjust to this time change so that you can maintain their routine (and keep your sanity!).
Slowly change bedtime
About a week before the clock change, start adjusting your little one's sleep routine by putting them to bed ten minutes later each night. For example, if your child's sleep time is 7 pm, adjust this to 7.10 pm on the first night, 7.20 pm on the second night, 7.30 pm on the third night and so on.
Pushing their bedtime routine by 10 minutes every night helps kids adjust to their new schedule and by the time the 30th of October comes around they will wake at the correct time and you will have been able to get a good night's sleep!
If your child is still napping you will need to apply the same principle to their napping routine as well by shifting it 10 minutes later each day too.
Ensure they have a good bedtime routine
Having a good bedtime routine is essential if you want to get your kids to sleep when daylight saving time ends.
As humans, our brains are wired to enjoy routine. If your child has a bedtime routine such as bath, story, and then sleep, they understand this and are more likely to relax. In the days leading up to the clock changing, if you simply move your usual routine forward a bit, your children will still know what's coming next so should be able to settle when going down to sleep.
If younger children need extra soothing, try to not get into bad habits as these might stick. To help kids adjust to the clock change you can try popping some lavender oil in a warm bath or on their pillow.
If you don't manage to make the adjustment to your child's bedtime in advance of the clocks changing, don't worry. You may find that your child's biological clock is a little out of sync in the few days following the clock change and that's okay.
Stick with your usual routine, ensuring that your little one gets quality sleep and it will sort itself out in a day or two.
If you would like ongoing sleep advice don't forget to check out our Sleep Series courses. These come with support from our lead Sleep Consultant, Erica Hargaden, via a private Facebook Community.
Spend as much time outdoors or in the daylight as possible
Aligning your child's body clock to the course of the day helps with their energy and mood. When we gain an extra hour when the clocks fall back, this can be extremely beneficial to older kids. Where possible, try to limit screen time at least an hour before bed (ideally two) as this can give off blue light exposure which causes your little one to struggle with sleep.
Control the Lights
Melatonin helps to regulate our body's internal clock. It increases at nighttime when it becomes dark and this helps us fall asleep. Production of melanin shuts down when it's dark and this can lead to wakefulness and alertness.
To help with this, it's recommended dim the lights in your little one's bedroom about 30 minutes to an hour before they should be going down to sleep. This will help improve sleep quality, sleep time and make your child want to sleep as it allows the brain to relax.
In the morning, especially at wake-up time, you want to ensure your child gets as much light as possible. Open the curtains wide to let in natural sunlight and try and get them out for a walk (weather permitting).
Help kids with healthy sleep associations
You should always try to put your child to bed awake, but sleepy. If your child needs feeding before going down to sleep, you should try to do this a little earlier to try and avoid them drifting off into a peaceful slumber before bed.
When possible, you should try and work on healthy sleep associations with your children. Things such as cuddling a comforter, thumb sucking, and humming are all great examples of positive associations.
Try to avoid a nightlight as this can rouse your child and cause them to be more wakeful and restless.
When the clocks fall back in autumn, try to be sympathetic toward your child if they are waking early or throwing a tantrum. It can upset your child's mood for a few days so try to not get frustrated with them.
When you are sympathetic towards your child it can help them to adjust to the clock change a little better.
Look after yourself while you help your children adjust to the clock change
Being a parent is hard work, so it's important that you take care of yourself too.
Many parents feel tired and cranky when the clocks change, so make sure you get as much rest as possible. Even if it's an hour of sleep when your little one is napping - it all adds up.
And remember, the effects of daylight saving time ending are short-lived, everything should be back to normal within a week!
Watch our short video on how to prepare for the clock change here
If you are dealing with sleep challenges with your little one then check out our Sleep Series courses. 94% of the families that use our Sleep Series courses report better sleep as a result.