The clocks go back on Sunday, October 28 and Paediatric Sleep Expert and Baby Elegance brand ambassador Lucy Wolfe shares her top tips on how to combat any difficulties the time change might cause.
It is a good idea for parents of young children to be aware of a few strategies that can be considered so that sleep is minimally disturbed at this time. It can take a few days and as long as a week for the body, both adults and children alike, to adjust to a different mood lighting caused by the change and the fact that our natural body clock is being challenged.
Firstly, ensure that your child is well rested in the run-up to this weekend. Achieving good naps if age appropriate and uninterrupted nighttime sleep wherever possible, to ensure that their body is optimally rested in advance.
There are a number of approaches you can choose from:
Do nothing. You and your child can immediately follow the time once the clock changes. If your child historically wakes at 7 am and goes to bed around 7 pm, the day the clock changes it will say 6 am, but it is no different to the day before. Stick to the same schedule and put them to bed when the clock says 7 pm, but that will really be 8 pm. For babies and toddlers who are not sensitive to being over-tired and highly adaptable, they adjust within a few days and re-settle into the same schedule they have been on previous to the change.
The second option is to slowly change your child’s schedule over the course of a few days before the time change. For example, you could start today, four days prior to the time change, by putting your child to bed 15 minutes later than normal in the hope that they wake 15 minutes later in the morning. This is determined by our internal clock, so may not always happen.
Also, offer naps 15 minutes later. For the next few days put them to bed 15 minutes later each night until the night of the time change and you will be back to your normal timetable and no further adjustment are required.
Finally, you could consider sticking to your normal schedule up until the time change and once it kicks in, be flexible and alter the schedule as much as your child can handle. Splitting the difference between the “old” time and the “new” time works well; on the first night they would go to bed at 7 pm and this would have been 7.30pm on the day before, so 30 minutes beyond their typical bedtime and then adjust the rest of schedule accordingly.
Whatever you decide to do, acknowledge that it can take about a week for the body to get used to any kind of change in sleeping habits and as a result, you can expect your days and potentially your nights to be a little off.