The clocks are soon to ‘spring’ forward, so in anticipation, we’ve put together eight tips to make sure you don’t lose any sleep over it.
For those with little ones it sometimes feels that just when you think you’ve got your little one into some sort of routine, the clocks change and ruin all your hard work! While it can be tough for adults to adjust, it’s often especially difficult for children. They don’t have the benefit of knowing what time it is or the ability to adjust their routines as easily; because of this, they need our help to reset their body clocks.
Black out blinds and curtains will help in preparing your child’s sleep environment for Spring/Summer in addition to the actual readjustment post hour-change. With lighter evenings, it’s a good idea to close blinds and curtains half an hour before bedtime to encourage a sense that it’s almost bedtime. If possible dim the lights, or put a little lamp or night light on.
As early as a week ahead, start to gradually move your child’s bedtime earlier than usual. Rather than shifting bedtime later by an hour in one go, gradually making smaller adjustments will hopefully reduce the chances of a super early wake-up call! Try putting your little one to bed 15 minutes earlier than usual each night to help them adjust slowly.
Move their bedtime routine, not just the bedtime. Stick to your usual bedtime routine that you follow every day, and make sure you also do it on weekends. Setting up a good routine with pre-bedtime activities, for example pyjamas, teeth and story time, will help your little one to understand and be ready for bedtime.
In the same way we need to prep their bedroom at night, it’s important to make similar tweaks in the mornings. Opening the curtains to let some natural light in or turning on the lights, will signal that it’s time to wake up and start the day.
Regardless of time changes, it’s always advisable to avoid screen use in the hour before bed. Typically mobile phones are the main culprit, but even tablets and TVs can emit blue light that can contribute to poor sleep. Encouraging relaxing activities instead, such as reading together, will help your child to wind down and relax, helping them to feel tired and ready for sleep.
This may seem an obvious one, but certainly on the week leading up to the clock change when you’re going to attempt a slightly earlier night, try to tire them out in the day with plenty of physical activity and fresh air. Go for a walk, kick a ball about in the garden, play hide and seek or even have a kitchen disco – physical and mental stimulation, along with plenty of fresh air will help to get their energy out and let sleep in.
If you have dinner early, then a snack about 45 minutes before bedtime may help your child settle sooner and sleep better. Be mindful with what your child eats close to bedtime though – a last minute sugar rush isn’t going to help, but warm milk could make your child feel cosy and sleepy.
Make sure your child has time to relax and unwind before bed. Reading together and doing relaxation exercises can really help to get them off to sleep more comfortably. Save the Children have some good techniques here.