This year the clocks spring forward on Sunday 25th March at 1am when we all lose one hours sleep. The challenges of coping with the change by getting your children adjusted to the new ‘summer’ time zone can be daunting. Here are 5 top tips from Dave Gibson the founder of thesleepsite.co.uk, to help you make the change as smooth as possible.
- Stagger the hour change.
In simple terms, it is not possible for anyone to naturally feel tired an hour earlier than normal as our body clocks are designed to go to sleep at roughly the same time each night. Therefore we need to break the hour down into smaller, manageable steps. For babies and toddlers who aren’t at school, I recommend bringing bedtimes and nap times forward in 10 minute increments over 6 days, starting on Sunday 18th March. At the same time make sure to move all routines forward in increments too, including bath, nap and meal times. For children at nursery and primary school, it’s easier start the change on Thursday night, and bring the bedtimes forward by 20 minutes on Thursday, Friday and Saturday so that on Sunday morning they are in cinque with the new summer time zone and wake up refreshed. For older children, teenagers and parents, bring bedtime forward by ½ hour changes on Friday and Saturday night.
- Get the light right.
Light days and dark nights are the key to good sleep. Encourage an earlier bedtime by dimming lights in the evening and closing curtains a half-hour or an hour before bedtime to trigger to the brain that bedtime is coming. In the mornings, open the curtains, or even better black out blinds to make the bedroom as bright as possible straight away. Always make sure all technology which emits blue light which keeps us awake is always stopped an hour and a half before bedtimes.
- Tire them out.
Exercise is proven to help us get to and stay asleep. Plan physical activity more than the norm on the days you are adjusting bedtimes, as it will make it easier to get children to bed earlier as their bodies will be naturally telling them they need more sleep. Try to get children playing and exercising outside to get their daily dose of sunlight which reinforces the distinction between day and night strengthening the body clock.
- Explain what’s going on
If you have a nanny, or support from family at home, make sure they are aware of the changes of routine you are planning. If your child is old enough fully explain what is going on and why you are staggering the changes, telling them it ensures they will wake up refreshed for school on Monday morning.
- Don’t worry if it goes astray
Make sure you grab some me time during the change to manage the extra stress, and go to bed ½ hour earlier on the Friday and Saturday nights. Even if it all goes wrong, and your plans for the family don’t slot into place, there is no need to get overly concerned as your child will soon adjust to the new regime.
David Gibson Sleep Expert: thesleepsite.co.uk
(Registered Osteopath, Naturopath and Hypnotherapist)