The light at the end of the tunnel is literally here! Those dark mornings are over, lighter, longer evenings are finally here! “Hooray” I hear you celebrate, but what does this mean for our little ones and their routine and how do we need to prepare them for this 1 hour clock change? Do we need to do anything at all?
In today’s blog I am going to explain why you may want and how to transition slowly so your child is prepared for the clocks going forward one hour and also if you feel there is no need how you can just "wing it"!
Many children are very sensitive to time changes, if we skip a nap, move it to another time or try extend a nap longer when they are used to having a shorter one at that particular time it does not always work. If we push bedtime later we experience a meltdown as the over tiredness takes over with all the cortisol rising in their body and they may struggle to settle into peaceful sleep, endure a “false start” or the most common result, waking pre 6am the following morning.
Why Does This Happen?
Well this is because their internal biological clock has set itself with all your hard work working on routine and with the help of food, sleep and social interaction. These are the 3 key elements that govern the body clock. Now, when you are in a good routine and possibly worked hard at establishing it, you may wonder how to deal with this hour change. You don’t want all your hard work going to pot.
Some children are not so sensitive to the time changes and for them you may very well just be able to do nothing, deal with the clock change cold turkey and they adjust accordingly on the day. This often happens for older children over 3 years but still, some struggle.
For those children out there who regularly wake early anyway, you will be pleased the clocks go forward an hour as the 5am wake waking’s now become 6am waking’s and in turn this natural clock change has “fixed” your child’s early rising. This may not solve the overall amount of sleep your child gets at night however. It is worth taking a look at the nap lengths and time of day your child does nap as often early rising stems from over or under tiredness.
Small babies may struggle more with clock changes as their awake windows are so very important to their body clocks and you don’t want to contribute to their over/under tiredness. They can be very sensitive to moving around naps and bedtimes as I previously mentioned.
Remember, lighter mornings will contribute to waking early so ensure you have the room blacked out as much as possible. If you can see your hand in front of your face then the room is too light so please invest in some good black outs that don’t let in any light seep in, not even a crack! These are my favourite!
For those of you who would like to prepare your little one in advance for this one hour time change and you also have the added bonus of being able to wake your child of a morning, for the upcoming clock change here below is a simple guide you can follow (For a 7am-7pm routine. If you are on 6am-6pm routine adjust accordingly)
You will need to start this on Monday 20 March, 1 week BEFORE the clocks change so you are ready on Sunday 26 march to wake at your usual 7am.
You may find that you prefer to do the adjustment AFTER the clocks have gone forward. This can suit your early riser. Follow the guide below to help you through the change on the Monday, after clock change.
Of course if you wish to do nothing and face this 1 hour difference cold turkey you can do that. Be prepared for a couple of days of disrupted sleep and disturbed naps but your child will adjust. With any time change it usually takes about a week or 2 to settle down.
For new born babies who are not in any routine yet still keep in tune with their wake windows. Their circadian rhythm has not quiet established yet so this is why keeping in tune with wake windows is the best action for them!
For your toddlers and older children who also may have clocks in their room and you feel you can just “wing it” it will just be a case of setting the wake up time to the new time and adjusting the actual time on the clock itself on THE night
Keep the bedtime routine as it always has been for any age child. Ensure you still get outside as much as possible to soak up that sunshine, this will top up levels of serotonin that converts to melatonin and will help with falling asleep in the evening.
Please feel free to share this blog with your friends who may be wondering how to prepare for springing into summer.
Your Paediatric Sleep Consultant
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