You know how it is… we wait all winter for the hour change, bringing us brighter mornings and evenings, and the promise of warmer weather on the way, but on the flip side, it can also bring sleep disruption for children (and adults too, for that matter), in the form of stressful bedtimes, night wakings and earlier wake ups.
Looking forward to the approach of the summer months, here we suggest some holiday-themed options to handle the impending hour change and avoid the disruption that might follow:
Paddle – starting from Monday (March 21st), bring bedtime forward by 10 minutes each night, leading up to the hour change on Sunday March 27th. For children having naps, wake them 5 minutes earlier from the last nap to accommodate this.
Ride with the waves – On Saturday (March 26th), try to have a busy day with plenty of activities and move bedtime 30 minutes earlier than usual. On Sunday, wake everyone by 7am (yes, I know that sounds appealing, but this will set you up for the rest of the day). Continue with timing as normal on Sunday, but children may need a slightly earlier nap to prevent them getting too overtired. Keep bedtime at regular time on Sunday evening.
Dive in – Just go with it, and keep timing as normal, but plan accordingly for Sunday, bearing in mind that you will have had an hour’s less sleep the night before.
What else can we do?
‘It’s still sunny – how can it be bedtime?’ – for young children at least, it is likely to still be bright at bedtime, so make sure you have effective blackout blinds for the windows. Early waking in the morning can be caused by light so keeping the room as dark as possible can encourage a later wake up.
‘Wake up, it’s a beautiful morning’ – for regular early wakers, the hour change may appear to help with this. However be aware that this may only be temporary as the body clock will adapt to the new time and return to the early wake ups. On the plus side, brighter mornings make us feel better even if we have had less sleep.
‘Old time, new time’ – don’t go there. Once the hour has changed, forget about the ‘old time’. It’s just current time now and keep to your normal schedule based on the new time.
It can take a few days to adjust to the hour change so don’t worry if your, or your child’s schedule is knocked off kilter initially. Our clever natural body clock will fix it within a few days.
If my child is tired, why is it such a battle to get him down for a nap? Why does he not settle for longer than 30 minutes for naps? Sound familiar? Our child sleep guide looks at the causes and what you can do to remedy them.
Maryanne established The Sleep Works in 2010. She is a qualified and experienced Sleep Consultant who has helped hundreds of parents with their children’s sleep problems. She also works with adults to educate, support and motivate them to improve their sleep. She gives many talks and workshops on child and adult sleep, has written numerous articles, and has appeared on Channel 4's 'Born Naughty?' show. Find out more about Maryanne and The Sleep Works.