Article by Nicole at Baby 2 Sleep.
Here we go again
I can’t quite believe where this year has gone. We had the Spring clock change in lockdown, and now we are at the Autumn clock change in what looks like another lockdown. 2020 has not been the year any of us were expecting.
Now we face the prospect that our morning wake-up will get 1 hour earlier, which if you already have an early riser is not a fun place to be right now.
Your friends with older children or no children will be looking forward to an extra hour in bed, while we will be getting a much earlier start with an extra hour in the day to fill.
There are things we can do to help make this more manageable though.
Just Roll With It
If you have a pretty easy-going child that tends to be a consistent sleeper, you might find just rolling with it is the way to go. So if 7pm is their normal bedtime, just stretch them to 8pm so they still get their normal amount of sleep throughout the night. You may need to add an extra nap in there for younger babies to get them through to 8pm.
If you have a 3, 4 or even a 5-year-old that doesn’t nap anymore, you may find a car drive in the late morning / early afternoon may help them get a 30-minute snooze, and this should be enough to get them through to 8pm without (too many) meltdowns.
This option is also great if you are stuck at a late bedtime where you have to wake your little one for school or nursery in the morning. You can instantly make an 8pm bedtime 7pm without much trouble.
Try not to have your child sitting and waiting for the extra hour before bed as it can confuse their routine and cause more disruption. You may decide to go for an extra walk in the afternoon and shift tea time 30-60 minutes later than normal, so the length of time after tea and before bedtime isn’t much different to normal.
Things to be wary of with this option, a later bedtime doesn’t always mean your child will wake up after their normal amount of sleep, so if you find that later bedtimes tend to create earlier wake-ups, I would avoid this option.
If you are happy to accept the early wake up on Sunday morning, especially if you have gone to bed at your normal time, you may choose to put your little one to bed at their normal time, use 7pm for example, then the following day, you may do the new 7pm, or if your little one is seeming tired, you may choose to do a 6:30pm bedtime to avoid the overtiredness. If it hits late morning and you can see your little one is flagging, a 30 minute cat nap may help them get through the bedtime.
On the Sunday morning, try to keep it dark and calm for the hour they would normally be asleep for, or as close to. All the small things you do to help reset their body clock will add to the adjustment.
Try to keep meal times at the new time rather than the old time, it may mean a mid morning snack if your child is seeming grumpy due to hunger.
Eating at the same time every day helps us all adjust to the new time.
Split The Difference
Another option is to split the difference. This is the most popular option as this tends to mean you aren’t pushing your little one to stay up too much later than normal, so 7:30pm to bed instead of the normal 7pm. It is easier to cope with a 30 minute earlier wake up time than normal if you have had the extra sleep yourself. This then means bedtime is the new 7pm on Sunday night and you should be back into the swing of things.
If you have a sensitive sleeper, 30 minutes may not seem like much, but if your child struggles with sleep anyway, the additional 30 minutes may just create the earlier than expected rise, in which case, you may wish to try an even slower option.
Slowly Slowly Catchy Monkey
There is another option, and that is to do the change gradually. In the past I have personally found this to be quite difficult to implement myself with work and nursery, however, this year I am opting for the gradual route as I have an extra sensitive sleeper who is very prone to early rising from a later bedtime and is extra tired since starting school. New baby on the other hand falls into the just roll with it category.
It sounds simple enough to say move bedtime 15 minutes later each night in the run up to the clock change, but it isn’t just about the bedtime shifting. To make the gradual change work, you need to make changes in the day routine and make everything shift so it has the least disruption on the body clock.
I have put together an example chart to show how this change can be implemented.
|Activity/Day||Tuesday||Wednesday||Thursday||Friday||Saturday||Sunday (New Time)|
|Nap||12 noon||12:15pm||12:30pm||12:45pm||1pm||12 noon|
This is a difficult one to follow as it does require you changing your routine aswell, and that can be hard to stay consistent in the time shifts, especially around work commitments and nursery schedules, but it can be done. This method can also be used if you are trying to change a child’s circadian rhythm, not just at a clock change.
Don’t Panic – It’s Happening to EVERYONE
One thing to take away from all the above options is to try not to panic about it. You may find sleep slightly disrupted for a few days, but it is short lived. The body clock is very clever and adjusts itself by following social cues and activity, so if the whole day shifts after the clock change, meal times, naps, bedtime etc and you keep to routine, you will find the change isn’t as scary as you anticipate it to be. It always seems easier to make the big change when everyone is making the change at the same time.
It is just like going on holiday, I always recommend getting straight onto the new time and pattern straight away.
Other Helpful Tips
Now that we have talked about the time change, lets talk about some other things we can do to help the adjustment run as smoothly as possible.
We all follow routines every day, whether we notice it or not. If we eat at the same time every day, you will notice yourself becoming hungry around the time you normally eat. If you go to bed at the same time each night, you will find yourself getting tired at around the same time. Our brain looks at what is going on around it and it takes in messages that guide it to what is coming next.
Babies and children love routine, they don t just love it, they crave it. It is up to you to give them the signals they need to understand what is happening. This is why a good, consistent bedtime routine is extremely helpful. Doing the same things in the same order every night. This, along with your surroundings, sends the messages to the brain to signal that sleep in coming and helps produce the sleepy hormone melatonin which ready’s the child for sleep.
You will have recently noticed that when you get up with your little one, it’s pretty dark. Last year my then 3-year-old daughter used to tell me every morning how dark it was and that it must be Halloween today. Like I didn’t know it was dark, and like I didn’t want to be back under the duvet in bed, because to me, her morning felt like my night time.
However, with this clock change there comes some lighter mornings, which can throw your little ones. They have been used to waking up when its dark, so now when they wake up and it’s lighter, they think it is time to get up. If you haven’t already, consider getting some kind of blackout blind to block out this early morning light. It doesn’t have to mean getting new blinds installed, but you can buy things such as the Easynight Blind. This is a personal favourite as it velcro’s to the window frame so blocks all the light out. I love it.
Another useful tip for children from about 20 months old and up, is to introduce a sleep clock. There are various types out there such as the Gro Clock, however, I find this one is better introduced to a slightly older child and I find it is much brighter than other clocks and in my opinion, gives off too much blue light, which can disturb sleep.
If you want a simple, dimmer, sleep clock that the younger ones can understand, I find the Claessens Kids Sleep Clocks fantastic. I used this one with my daughter from the age of 19 months, and it is as simple as rabbit is awake, or asleep. While he sleeps, its time for her to sleep (or at least play with the teddies quietly), when rabbit wakes up, she could shout to me as much as she likes.
Red Night Light
Another option is to have something that has red light on a timer, so no light throughout the night, but when the red light comes on in the morning, it tells the child it is time to get up. Red light is the best colour in general for a night light as it least disrupts sleep.
Remember, It Won’t Last Forever
If you do find that you get a few rocky nights and early mornings, remember, it won’t last. Stay consistent, keep routine, and keep the faith.
If you are struggling with sleep in general, please take a look at the various options of support available from the award winning building your own sleep plan to intensive one to one support. There is something for everyone.