Clocks in the UK will move back by an hour next Sunday (25th October) to mark the end of British Summertime. As if we haven’t enough going on this year, now our little ones could be getting up a whole hour earlier too – eek!
But don’t worry, to help you navigate the clock change with ease, I’ve outlined below three different methods which you could use. I’ve also included my top tips for managing the clock change, no matter which method you decide to use.
So scroll down and be prepared for next weekend. Don’t worry, you’ve got this covered!
Number 1 – The Simple Switch
The easiest method for children aged over 3 years is the Simple Switch. And it is just that. This method only requires you to push bedtime back by one hour on Saturday. So if your child’s bedtime is normally 7pm, simply keep your child up for an extra hour and make bedtime 8pm for Saturday night only. Your child will still have their normal amount of overnight sleep and wake at their usual morning time.
Then, on Sunday night (after the clocks have changed), you go back to your normal regular bedtime (in this example 7pm). Simple!
Word of Warning – You may have difficulty with the Simple Switch if your child struggles to stay awake for an extra hour on Saturday night without becoming too over-tired and grumpy. This tiredness could contribute to night wakings or a very early waking in the following few days.
If you think that your child is likely to find this extra hour awake difficult, then you could add in an extra nap (if they are still napping) or add in some real quiet time during the afternoon to see them through.
Alternatively, you could try the Split the Difference technique.
Number 2 – Split the Difference
With this method you move bedtime by just 30 minutes instead of the full hour and split the hour time difference across two nights.
Simply put your little one to bed 30 minutes later on Saturday night. So if your child’s normal bedtime is 7pm, keep them up until 7.30pm on Saturday night instead. On Sunday, after the clocks have changed, you return to the child’s normal bedtime (in this case 7pm) and continue as normal.
This method is a favourite of mine as it is really easy to use and doesn’t result in little ones getting quite to tired out.
An alternative approach for very young children or super sensitive sleepers is The Gradual Shift.
Number 3 – The Gradual Shift
The third option is the Gradual Shift. This requires a little more effort and management from you, but it means that your child gradually moves to the new time over the 4 nights leading up to the clock change.
To do this, you will need to start on Wednesday 21st October and move their normal bedtime back by 15 minutes. For example if your child’s bedtime is normally 7pm, you would move it to 7.15pm on Wednesday.
Then on Thursday move it back by a further 15 minutes, so in this example bedtime on Thursday would be at 7.30pm.
Then on Friday you move back by another 15 minutes to 7.45pm, before moving a final 15 minutes to 8pm on Saturday.
This means you are gradually moving bedtime back by 15 minutes over the course of 4 nights. By Saturday night, your little one will be going to bed a whole hour later than normal.
After the clock change on Sunday morning, you simply return to your normal 7pm bedtime from Sunday night onwards.
Word of warning – Don’t forget that you will also have to move meal times and nap times in line with the bedtime changes so it can take a little bit of planning and fore thought.
Think about which approach will best suit your child and their individual sleep needs to choose the method that will work best for you. Then take a look at my top tips below to really glide through the clock change next weekend.
Clock Change Top Tips
Plan ahead – Think about your child’s personality and usual sleep pattern. Will they cope with staying up one hour extra? Would it better to split the change into 2 steps? Or do they need a gradual creep during the week? Create a plan that suits your child and your family, and stick to it.
Prioritise naps – For younger children (particularly those aged under 3), you need to make naps a priority during this time change. Ensure that your child is well-napped during the day so that when the clocks change, the later bedtime doesn’t feel as much of an issue.
If they don’t nap any more, add in periods of quiet play and relaxation in dim lighting.
Between naps, make sure that your child is exposed to plenty of natural light. Open the curtains, take a walk, or just play outside. If you find that your child is still having trouble with sleep even after a good day of naps, you may need to temporarily add in an extra cat nap to help make sure that they aren’t overtired at bedtime.
Good old bedtime routine – Nothing signals bedtime better than your trusty sleep routine. Even though you may be adjusting bedtimes slightly, make sure that you still follow your soothing routine before naps and bedtime, to signal to your child’s brain that it’s time to wind down to sleep. Close the curtains, dim the lights, follow your routine, and snuggle down.
Resettle early waking – The Autumn clock change can lead to early morning waking for a few days, particularly where a child was already an early riser before the change. 5:30am becomes 4:30am and no one wants to start their day at that time!
Respond to these awakenings and gently resettle your child back to sleep as though it were still the middle of the night.
And don’t be tempted to get them up when they wake super early. The problem will snowball and the waking will become earlier each day. Resettle them as though it is the middle of the night, and don’t be tempted to get up until it’s your normal morning time.
Back to Black – Consider using blackout blinds or curtains to maintain darkness in your child’s room and help them to sleep more soundly. Although the days are getting shorter, there may be some natural light around that could be enough to disrupt your little ones sleep. Blackout blinds are especially great for early waking and may be enough to ease them through the troublesome early starts.
Get outdoors! Your child may have a little difficulty re-setting their body clock (circadian rhythm) at first. Help them by getting outside in natural daylight for 20 -30 minutes each day (preferably in the morning) to help them to adjust to the time change and reset their body clock.
Wrap up warm, head outdoors and go for a walk or a play in the daylight. Try doing this for the first week or so after the clock change and feel the difference it makes to your day! (This tip is also really great for adults to follow too)
So there you have it – three different methods for managing the Autumn Clock Change and lots of tips to use too.
With a little thought and planning, you can move through the clock change with ease!
If you are having difficulty with you child’s sleep, you can book a free 15-minute Introductory Call with me by clicking here
Rachael, The Sleep Sanctuary
The Sleep Sanctuary is a Children’s Sleep Consultancy supporting tired parents to help their children sleep soundly and live healthier, happier lives