Through the winter months, how often do we long for bright mornings and longer evenings? From Sunday, we are about to get those when the hour goes forward at 1am. While we might rejoice that spring is here, it unfortunately means an hour’s less sleep for us and our children and our body clock may need a little adjustment time.
As parents, while we know it’s going to happen, it can induce mild panic at the thought of the disruption to our child’s sleep patterns. First of all, don’t panic! A few simple tweaks to your child’s day is often all it takes.
For the adaptable sleeper:
- From Monday after the hour change (27th March), switch immediately to the new time and keep naps at the same time. For example, if you usually put your child down for a nap at 9am, from Monday morning, put your child down at 9am, new time. And from now on, there is no ‘old time/new time’, it’s just ‘time’.
For the less adaptable sleeper, use a gradual process:
- Start putting your child to bed 15 minutes earlier than normal at bedtime, shifting nap times around 15 minutes earlier too. Keep moving bedtime and nap times 15 minutes earlier each day until you get to the hour earlier. This will help them adapt gradually to the hour change OR
- Move bedtime half an hour earlier from now. From Monday evening, the night after the hour change, return to the original bedtime.
Overtiredness at bedtime can open up a host of sleep issues during the night and can cause early waking. So avoid this at all costs and go for an earlier bedtime initially for the first few days following the hour change until your little one adjusts.
- If you think your child’s bedroom is dark enough, make it even darker! Invest in the best blackout blinds you can, as even small chinks of light coming into the room in the early hours can cause your child to wake too early.
- Lots of playtime outside in the afternoon is helpful as production of melatonin, the natural sleep hormone is triggered by natural light.
- Be prepared for some disruption to your child’s sleep for a few days following the hour change but stay consistent with the routine and framework of your child’s day.