I don’t know about you, but bedtime always seems a little easier when it’s dark outside, not just for our little ones, but for us grown-ups too.
When it’s cold and dark all we really want to do is climb into our warm beds and snuggle down (my husband would definitely hibernate all winter if he thought he could get away with it!).
Have you noticed bedtime battles are a little less tricky when it’s getting dark before you take your little loves upstairs for bed? That’s because naturally when it’s darker our bodies are getting ready to prepare us for sleep, so we start to produce the natural sleepy hormone melatonin (as opposed to cortisol which is produced in daylight).
But then, BAM, the clocks change! Argh!
This month (October) we’re ‘falling back’, so theoretically gaining an hour, although psychologically we feel as if our little ones are waking even earlier! So rather than waking at their usual 7am the clock’s reading 6am!
Or, for those who think the day starts at 5.30am the clocks at 4.30am! Noooooo!!
Our circadian rhythm (our 24 hours body clock) is thrown off kilter, just as if we have crossed a timezone (like jetlag but without the tan!). So how can we overcome this I hear you say? Read on and I’ll tell you!
If you’ve signed up for my ‘Top 5 Easy Sleep Solution Tips’, followed my Facebook Page or worked with me with private consultations, you’ll know I’m a HUGE fan of bedtime routines and think that a good bedtime routine for little ones is paramount to helping them sleep well.
So we’re going to utilise this routine to our advantage to help the transition into the faux timezone so we can all keep sleeping, well, like a baby!
Adjusting Your Routine
My tips will really depend on how good a sleeper your little one is already.
For “Fall Back,” my recommendation to all parents is just to leave the clocks alone so it’s not a psychologically upsetting event to see your little one up an hour earlier. Just get up at your usual time and start the day.
After your cup of coffee and a bit of breakfast, then you can go around changing the clocks. It will feel much better this way, trust me!
So let’s start with the little darlings who haven’t quite grasped just how lovely drifting off to the land of nod can be just yet.
Not So Great Sleepers
The clocks change at 2am on the last Sunday of October here in the UK, so this year it will be Sunday 27th October 2019.
I suggest that the weekend before, you start to tweak their bedtime by 15 minutes every couple of days. So on Sunday, instead of a 7pm bedtime (for example), try 7.15pm.
Then, on Wednesday push it by another 15 minutes, the same again on Friday until on Sunday night bedtime is 8pm in old money, but actually 7pm by your recently changed clocks.
Do the same 15 minutes for any naps they might have too on the same days as you change bedtime.
As for those who are generally good sleepers, let’s ‘split the difference’.
Let’s say your child usually goes to bed at 7pm, then I recommend putting that child to bed at 6:30pm for the first three days following the time change, which will FEEL like 7:30 to your child.
You would then change it to 7pm around the middle of the week after the clocks have changed.
It will take about a week for your child’s body to get used to this. It takes everybody’s body roughly one week to adjust any kind of change in sleeping habits.
Don’t Forget About Naps…
What about naps? If, for example, your little one usually takes a morning nap around 9:30, you will adjust this to 9:00 (which will feel like 10am) for the three days after the time change.
It will be a bit of a push for your child, but not so much that it will cause much damage to her schedule.
Do the same for any other naps they might take during the day, but make sure you adjust naps and bedtime on the same days.
Other Tricks to Try!
If you have children over the age of two, you can put a digital clock in the room and put a piece of tape over the minutes, so that they can see if it is 6 o’clock or 7 o’clock, but they cannot see the minutes (which often confuses toddlers).
Just set the clock forward half an hour so that at 6:30 it says 7:00 and let them get up a little earlier than normal, knowing that, by the end of the week, they will be back on track and sleep until their normal wakeup time.
The same principle applies if you use a Gro-Clock or other similar training clock for your little ones.
If you are dealing with a baby, the clock trick won’t work, obviously. Instead, try not rush in as soon as you hear your baby waking up, because you do not want to send a message that getting up at 6am is okay now.
So if she normally wakes at 7:00, but is now up at 6:00, you will wait till ten past the first day, and then twenty past the next, then 6:30 the next day and, by the end of the week, your baby’s schedule should be adjusted to the new time and waking up at their usual hour.
As you can see, regardless of whether your little one is currently a good sleeper or not, the ease of transitioning after the clocks change relies heavily on a set bedtime and routine.
If you’re struggling to implement a bedtime routine or regular bedtime and would like some help and advice on how to do this for your child, why not book your FREE 15 minute telephone consultation so we can discuss how this might help your family regain the sleep you all deserve.
As for the clocks springing forward and losing an hour?…pah, lets deal with that one in 6 months, shall we?…