It’s that time again – the clock change is looming. This Sunday (28th March) the clocks in the UK will ‘spring forwards’ by one hour to begin British Summertime.
With this change, we actually lose an hour of sleep, so the biggest worry is that it can cause tiredness for adults and children alike. It can sometimes take about a week for our bodies to fully adjust to the switch – a little like jet lag. To help you and your family make the transition, I’ve chosen three different techniques to choose from, plus a whole host of top tips to help you.
I recommend that you read all three options, and then decide which one will work best for your child’s personality type and your current situation. My favourite is often Split the Difference as it tends to work for most children, but read on and select the most appropriate for your little one.
3 ways to manage the Spring Clock Change
The Straight Switch
You can choose to go ’all in’ and just shift to the new time straight off. Some children (particularly older children, those with flexible temperaments or very skilled sleepers) can adapt this way and it has limited effect on them.
With this method there is no preparation required and you just simply change the clocks on Sunday morning and jump right in to your normal schedule at the new time.
It can take about a week to fully adjust to the lost hour. I recommend plenty of daytime sunlight to reset their body clock and some extra naps or quiet time, to make up the difference.
Split the Difference
Another option is go for a two-step approach and split the time change across two nights to soften the blow.
For this method, you simply put your little one to bed 30 minutes earlier on Saturday night. So, based on a 7:30pm bedtime, this will mean putting her down at 7pm on Saturday night instead.
Then after the clocks change on Sunday, you revert to your normal 7:30pm bedtime, and your little one has only really lost 30 minutes of sleep, rather than the full hour.
Again, exposure to daytime sunlight and some extra naps or quiet time will help to ease the transition.
My final method is a more gradual approach. This is ideal for younger children, more sensitive temperaments or less skilled sleepers.
Using the Steady Steps method you gradually move your child’s bedtime earlier in 15-minute increments on the four nights leading up to the clock change.
For example, if their normal bedtime is 7:30pm, you would put him down at 7:15pm on Wednesday night, then at 7pm on Thursday night, 6:45pm on Friday night and then at 6:30pm on Saturday night.
Then on Sunday (after the clock change) you go right back to having 7:30pm bedtimes again.
This gradual creeping of bedtime helps little ones to adjust more easily and in manageable steps.
For all of these methods you will need to move meal times and nap times accordingly. So whether you are Splitting the Difference and moving thirty minutes early on Saturday, or taking Steady Steps over a number of days, you’ll need to move naps and meals in line with this.
Extra tips for success
Here are my bonus tips for handling the spring forward clock change
- When your child wakes up on Sunday morning, make sure she gets some sunlight first thing in the morning. This will help to reset her internal body clock and to adjust to the new time. If you can also do this on Monday too, it really helps.
- Make sure you have your blackout blinds or darkening shades in place to shut out every last bit of daylight. With lighter mornings and evenings, children can sometimes get confused and think that it’s not time to be in bed.
- A day/night clock is great for older toddlers who need to know when it is time to get up or stay in bed. There are so many different types out there, so go for one that your child will like and understand. Make sure that you follow the clock EVERY time, or it won’t work it’s magic any more.
- If your child is getting over-tired, an extra cat-nap of no more than 30 minutes before 4pm, could help them through and set them up for a better night’s sleep. Don’t forget – the more well rested they are, the better they will sleep.
- It may take up to a week for your little one to fully adjust and transition on to the new time, so bear with it and if she’s really tired, just go ahead with an early night.
And finally, here are my
Daylight Savings Time Tips for Adults
- Try to go to bed 30 minutes earlier than usual on Saturday night. This will lessen the effect of the clock change and prevent you from feeling too tired
- Make sure that you get enough rest to manage your potentially overtired child. Unfortunately tired little ones are often much harder to handle.
- Reduce your caffeine and alcohol intake this weekend as they can negatively affect sleep
- Try to find even a tiny amount of time to practice some self care. We’ve been through so much this year already, so try to be kind to yourself. A hot bubble bath (in peace), painting your nails, some yoga or meditation, reading a good book or a peaceful walk outside will all help to clear your mind.
Remember, if you are struggling with your child’s sleep you are definitely not alone. I can help you with a range of different gentle sleep packages, designed to meet your individual needs.
If you would like to chat about your child’s sleep challenges, you can book a free Initial Consultation with me by clicking here
The Sleep Sanctuary