The ‘Spring Forward’ clock change is almost upon us. But are you wondering why you're still feeling too tired to fully enjoy the springtime? Children's Sleep Expert, Natalie Preston, is here to give us her top tips on how we can all prioritise sleep better so that we're 'Spring-ing' out of bed each morning.
This is the tougher one to deal with for kids because we lose an hour of sleep on Sunday night. Most kids, especially little ones, are fairly routine driven and often struggle when they lose out on sleep. It can lead to over-tired tantrums and the build-up of sleep debt. But worry not, I’m going to give you a quick and easy way to make this adjustment easier on your kids without boggling your mind trying to work out ‘what’s the new time and what’s the old-time’. Keep reading to the end and you’ll even get a tip on how to make this clock change work for early risers and get them sleeping later…daylight saving might as well do some good for all the trouble it causes!
Split the difference
In a nutshell this is my answer to the clock change. Most little people will struggle if they just lose an hour of sleep overnight. So let’s make the transition easier on their body and break it down into two half-hour changes. On Sunday you’ll need to make the first half hour change, which means adjusting all naps and meals/milk feeds and pushing them back by half an hour on the new time (this will feel like pulling them forward by half an hour on the old time). So if lunch used to be at 12 noon and nap at 12:30pm, this will now change to lunch at 12:30am and nap at 1pm. This might mean it takes your little one slightly longer to fall asleep as they’re now going down half an hour sooner, but that’s perfectly manageable, an hour isn’t. If bedtime used to be 7pm, put them to bed at 7:30pm (which will feel like 6:30pm) and bear in mind it’ll take a few days to adjust to this.
Continue like this for 2-3 days, depending on how time sensitive your little one is. Then make the final half hour shift and bring timings back to their usual schedule times of 12noon lunch, 12:30pm nap and 7pm bedtime. Again this will feel like everything’s happening half an hour earlier so you might get some resistance at bedtimes but they’ll adjust quickly.
We might as well get some benefit from these clock changes and use them to sort out an early riser. Early rising by the way is anything before 6am. If your child is waking at 6am or later then I’m afraid you may not be able to shift it as that’s a biologically normal time for a small person to wake. Something beginning with a five is not morning though and we need to change this. So, here’s what to do if you have an early riser on your hands.
On Sunday night put your child to bed at normal time. The clocks will change overnight and when he/she wakes at 5:30am the clocks will now say 6:30am. Go with the new timings straight away and adjust all feed and naps times according to the new clock for the whole day.
Bedtime is where you should make the shift. Go with an 8pm bedtime (7pm old time) rather than splitting the difference and going for a 7:30pm bedtime. I would recommend you then stick with an 8pm bedtime for a few days in the hope that he still takes the same length of sleep overnight and wakes at the new 6:30am instead of 5:30am and this becomes the new normal for him. Let this habit set in for a few days. You can then gradually (15 minutes every few days) bring this bedtime forward to 7:45pm then 7:30pm and so on. Only make the change every few days because you don't want that morning time to jump forward. If it jumps stay where you are or go back to the previous 15 minute later bedtime. And hey presto, with any luck your early rising will rise early no more!