On Sunday 31st March we will moving our clocks forwards by one hour in the UK to begin British Summertime. The clock-change this year falls on Mothering Sunday (yep, we lose an hour of sleep on Mother’s Day – thanks!)
Aside from the rubbish timing this year, some parents worry that losing an hour in bed will throw their child’s whole routine into chaos, particularly if they are just getting settled into a sleep routine or have just resolved a sleep issue.
The biggest danger with the Spring clock change is that it can cause overtiredness for adults and children alike. By losing an hour of sleep, it can take about a week for our bodies to fully adjust to the time switch.
So I have 3 techniques for you to manage the change, and a whole host of top tips to see you through next weekend’s switch with ease. Read my 3 solutions below and decide which one will work best for you and for your child’s personality type.
(And don’t forget to take a peek at my extra tips for managing your sleep too!)
My 3 Options for managing the Spring Clock Change
The straight switch
You can choose to go ’Cold turkey’ 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 little effect on them. But it can take about a week to fully adjust to the lost hour, and they will need plenty of daytime sunlight to reset their body clock and some extra naps or quiet time to make up the difference.
Split the difference
You might choose to go for a two-step approach to split the time change across two nights.
So with this method, you put your little one to bed 30 minutes earlier on Saturday night.
Based on a standard 7pm bedtime, this will mean putting her down at 6.30pm on Saturday night (splitting the hours difference and lessening its effect). Then after the clocks change on Sunday, you revert to your normal 7pm bedtime and your little one has only really lost 30 minutes of sleep rather than the full hour.
Or my final (and most popular method) is a more gradual approach. This is ideal for younger children, more sensitive temperaments or less skilled sleepers.
Using the Steady Steps approach 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 7pm, you would put him down at 6.45 on Wednesday night, 6.30 on Thursday night, 6.15 on Friday night and then at 6pm on Saturday night.
Then on Sunday (after the clock change) you go right back to having 7pm bedtimes again.
For all of these methods you will need to move meal times and naps times accordingly, to follow your normal pattern. So whether you are Splitting the Difference and moving everything thirty minutes early on Saturday, or Steadily Shifting everything 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 chink of daylight. With lighter mornings and evenings, children can sometimes get confused and think it is not time to be in bed.
- A day/night clock is great for older toddlers who needs 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, but do make sure that you obey 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 and at no later than 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 because the last thing you want is to create a continually overtired situation.
And finally, here are my
Daylight Savings Time Tips for Adults
- Try to go to bed 15 minutes earlier than usual on Thursday night. Then on Friday go to bed 30 minutes earlier than usual, and finally on Saturday try to go to bed 45 minutes earlier than your usual bed time. This approach will lessen the effect of the clock change and prevent you from feeling too overtired
- Make sure that you get enough rest to manage your potentially overtired child
- Reduce your caffeine intake this week and avoid alcohol this weekend which negatively effects sleep
Remember, if you are struggling with your child’s sleep, please seek support and guidance as you are most definitely not alone. If you would like to chat about your child’s sleep challenges and how you can resolve them, you can book a free Initial Consultation with me by clicking here
The Sleep Sanctuary