Changes to the clock can cause a lot of stress and worry about sleep patterns for our children. Will they ever go to bed again at a normal time? Will bedtime become a battle? Will their wake up time change too? As parents, this is just another part of life thrown our way twice a year, but it doesn’t have to be a worry. Here are my 4 top tips for dealing with the clock changes.
Make bedtime gradually later.
The clocks going forward always seems easier to deal with than when they go back. I mean, they say we lose an hour of sleep but as a parent, I’m not sure we have that extra hour in the first place! However, one quick way to help your child with the transition is to move their bedtime back by 5 minutes a day on the build up. This will help them to get used to the new time without too much upheaval.
Make sure the bedtime routine is calm and consistent.
Sometimes, simple changes to our bedtime routines can make the world of difference to our sleep in general. We have all heard of the no phones for 2 hours before going to sleep, but this translates into TV’s, playing games and working on the laptop.
Anything that gives off a blue light can affect sleep…even just on in the background. Making sure technology is switched off for a couple of hours before your little one goes to bed will be a positive change. Having a consistent routine helps your child to know what is happening. Introducing a personalised bedtime story can also support their understanding of the routine. Keep it simple and consistent. The bedtime routine should be no longer than 45 minutes from start to being asleep (ideally 30 minutes).
Use the extra hour of daylight you have been gifted to build up sleep pressure.
Sleep pressure is the key to a good night’s sleep. This doesn’t mean it will prevent wake ups and particularly for babies and toddlers these are completely normal, but it does mean they will have used up enough energy to have a good sleep latency (the time it takes for them to fall asleep) and for better sleep. Doing high energy, physical activities in the early evening is the perfect way to build up that sleep pressure but make sure you leave enough time for calming down before starting the bedtime routine. Activities such as obstacle courses, running, jumping on a trampoline or some high energy singing and dancing are all simple activities to help build sleep pressure. You are aiming for them to fall asleep between 20-30 minutes after laying down.
Helping those early risers
For those of you with children who wake at the crack of dawn…or earlier, this could be your saviour. The simple change of time, but leaving your routine as if nothing has changed could see them wake an hour later naturally. It is then you that takes the adjusting to the time rather than your child. The other thing to consider with an early riser is, have they already had their quota for sleep and therefore don’t need to sleep in later? Are your expectations of your little one in line with what is realistic? Sometimes, we are the ones who need realigning with what we are expecting of our little ones. As parents, we have a high expectation for a good night sleep and society forms these. If you want to chat about what is realistic for your little one’s sleep, take a look at my Sleep Easy packages where I can support you through this challenging period.
We can all dream about full night sleep and wake ups from 7:30am but in reality, this is unachievable for many children. Sometimes as parents we over analyse and over think and I have certainly found parenting is a lot less stressful if you just go with the flow! Don’t forget to turn those clocks forward this weekend!
P.S. Now the clock in your car will be right again!