Spring is in the air! This year our British clock change happens on Sunday 27th March at 1am.
Clock changes can cause a bit of worry for some parents but the good news is the ‘spring forward’ time change isn’t going to cause chaos for your little one’s sleep. In fact, if you have an early riser, this clock change can be a useful tool in shifting the body clock and getting a later wake-up time.
For example, a 5am wake on Sunday 28th will become 6am! And if you stick to the new time straight away and plan naps and meals on the new time, then there’s a chance that the new wake up time may remain!
However, I do have to throw caution to this because if there is an underlying issue of overtiredness (which early rising can often be the result of) then the clock change may not have the longer term desired effect. Feel free to reach out to me if you’re still having trouble with early rising post the clock change.
So - how to manage this clock change? There are 3 main options depending on the type of sleeper your child is - whether they’re adaptable or more sensitive.
Option 1: Cold Turkey - for the adaptable sleeper
On Saturday evening get little one to bed an hour earlier. If bedtime is usually 7pm, this is about to become 8pm when the clocks go forward. So tonight, 6pm is new 7pm!
If your child usually sleeps 12 hours (7pm-7am), you’ll still get the 12 hours from 6pm Saturday to 7am Sunday because we lose that hour in the night. They’re then waking up at the correct new time and the day can continue like normal.
Option 2: Gradual Shift - for the more sensitive or younger sleeper
If you don’t think your little one will manage to settle to sleep an hour earlier on the Saturday evening, you could work towards it by shifting bedtime 15mins for a few days leading up to the clock change. For example, assuming a bedtime of 7pm:
Wednesday bedtime: 6.45pm
Thursday bedtime: 6.30pm
Friday bedtime 6.15pm
Saturday bedtime: 6pm
Then on Sunday just return to your usual 7pm bedtime.
A good idea with this option is to adjust meals and naps by 15mins each day too. It takes a bit of planning but can be a good option for those younger and/or more sensitive sleepers.
Option 3: Meet in the middle - my favourite and one for all those ‘average’ sleepers!
I find this option one of the easiest. Little one goes to bed thirty minutes EARLIER than usual on the Saturday night.
This helps move towards the new time and doesn’t reduce the overall night sleep hours by too much.
Then, on Sunday you’re back to the usual bedtime by the new clock time. Simples!
Of course, the other option, is to do nothing! This suits a lot of families and whilst it means sleep may be wonky for a few days, things will settle down after time.
Other things to consider: Remember to change their gro clock at bedtime on Saturday.
Get them outside nice and early on Sunday morning to help set their body clock (let’s hope for some beautiful sunshine on Mother’s Day!)
The evenings will be a lot lighter so time to invest in a blackout blind if you haven’t already!
If you are going cold turkey and are aiming to get them down earlier on Saturday night, just make sure they have had plenty of exercise and fresh air that day and you could consider shortening their PM nap by 10-15mins so they’re ready for sleep that little bit earlier.
Adjust your own timings to make it smoother for the whole family.
KEY POINT! Remember, be patient! It can take up to a week for your children to fully adjust to the new time. You may need to be flexible and if s/he’s really tired, just go ahead with an early night because the last thing you want is overtiredness creeping in.
It can all get a bit confusing (even for me as a sleep consultant) let alone when you’re already sleep deprived! If you do want to chat it through at all or are having trouble getting back into a routine then please do get in touch and I’d love to help.