British Summer Time will be officially over for this year on Sunday 29th October 2017 when the clocks fall back an hour.
For child free households this could be an extra hour of sleep, out in the clubs or time in bed with the Sunday papers. But as a parent, gaining an hour means that children’s schedules are thrown off, sleep may become a challenge (for a few days, anyway).
Here are our best ways of improving your child’s sleeping pattern when daylight saving ends:
Tip 1: Move your child’s body clock
If you can start adjusting your child’s bedtime routine slowly across the fortnight before the clocks change, putting them to bed 15 minutes later than usual. After three or four nights of the new time, shift bedtime again by another 15 minutes and continue repeating this process until the bedtime has moved an hour later. Don’t worry if your child still wakes at the same time in the morning, by slowly shifting their body clock you will find the morning will soon catch up.
Tip 2: Be melatonin savvy
Light has an enormous influence on our body clocks and on the production of the sleep hormone melatonin, so get children outside in the afternoon light for some outdoors play to keep them up a bit later at bedtime.
Tip 3: Relaxation time
Turn off the tech and turn off TVs, tablets and computers an hour before you want them to be going to sleep. Wind down with relaxing activities such as jigsaws or board games in the half hour before the start of your bedtime routine. Recent research has shown that bright light from screens can interfere with the production of the sleep hormone, melatonin.
Tip 4: Reinforce your bedroom routine
Whatever your bedtime ritual in the hour before your child goes to bed, stick to it in the run up to the clock change and carry out the same steps every night. Having a regular routine means your child’s body will start to prepare for sleep as soon as you start this process. This is especially important when you are making adjustments to their bedtime to help with the clock change.
Tip 5: When can I get up?
Young children have no idea when they can get up and play, a simple low watt bulb light, plugged into a timer switch in their room will help them to know it’s morning. Set the light to come on 15 minutes later than usual, explaining they must stay in bed until the light comes on, even if it means you have to stay in the room with them initially. If your child stays in bed offer them plenty of praise. As bedtime moves back, shift the timer switch later. Don’t be tempted to move any quicker as your child may struggle to wait and it won’t work.
Tip 6: Good start
Delay your child’s morning milk and breakfast by 15 minutes every few days, so they don’t wake early expecting food. Avoid the temptation of giving your child a feed if they wake too early, in the hope that will get them back to sleep; you are more likely to just set up bad habits for the future.
One last thing…