by Becky Goman
Child Sleep Expert
When the clocks change in the winter, it seems to make us all a little bit sleepier. The dark evenings are inviting to snuggle up and the dark mornings make it even less appealing to get up.
Don’t get me wrong, for children with sleep issues, they often give little regard to whether it is light or dark outside, but for most children, dealing effectively with the clock changes can prevent unnecessary tiredness for parents.
It’s not simply a case of ‘losing an hour’s sleep’. Moving the clock an hour forward also interferes with our internal body clock. Circadian rhythm is the process inside our bodies that regulates changes to our body temperature, stress levels, appetite, metabolism and the desire to sleep, so it’s no surprise that when we change the physical clocks, our internal clocks take a little while to reset.
Not only does Daylight Savings Time affect children’s sleeping patterns but also adults as well. The Monday after Daylight Savings Time occurs in spring, adults are statistically 8% more likely to have a car accident and 5% more likely to have a heart attack, research suggests. Around the clock changes in autumn and spring, I get a lot of questions from parents asking how to deal with the clock changes and their children’s sleep. Children that sleep well, generally do so due to good routines and consistency, so when this is altered, even by an hour, it can throw everything off course. This is why the effects are often noticed more in young children as timings are so important in getting your child to sleep well.
So what can we do to help our children with this transition and make it more seamless for the whole family?
The best way to manage this change is to ‘split the difference’. Adjust their naptimes and bedtimes by 30 minutes for the three days after the clock change. For example, if your child usually goes to bed at 7.00 pm, put them to bed at 7.30pm. Although this means they are technically going to bed half an hour early and it may take them a little longer to settle, it is not so much of a jump that it will interfere as much. If we pay too much attention to the actual time on the clock, we run the risk of having an hour long ‘battle’ on our hands and possibly creating inconsistencies in what we do, because we are tired too. Remember the children are not the only ones who have lost an hours sleep. The inconsistencies we create are likely to have far more of an impact on your child’s sleep than the clocks changing.
Use the same 30 minutes earlier strategies for babies and toddlers at naptime too. On day and night four, work to the correct time on the clock again. For older children who can tell the time or have a digital clock in their room, it can be beneficial to change all the clocks in the house to 30 minutes later for three days and then to the correct time. This can minimise the psychological impact on them. Just make sure you don’t get confused as to what the actual time is! By using this method, things should be back to normal within a week.
I always recommend making sure the bedroom environment is right too. It can be hugely beneficial to ensure that your child’s bedroom is the same all year round. I always opt for blackout blinds to make the room pitch black and a low nightlight to make it less day-like again. By doing this it will ensure your children’s sleep environment is always exactly the same whether it is January or July.
Parents I have worked with have said: “Becky came up with a plan that suited us all as a family and it’s worked so well. My son now naps regularly and sleeps through the night, something we thought would not be happening for quite a while.”
“Becky gave us a set of instructions which enabled us to get our baby to sleep, this totally transformed our lives!”
“Along the way Becky has been a constant support, checking in and answering my every question no matter how erratic and emotional they were. I’d secretly like to keep her on speed dial just in case but she reassured me on our closing call that we’re more than set up to go it alone.”
Becky Goman is a fully certified Child Sleep Consultant and founder of The Independent Child Sleep Expert, and has helped families all over the UK get more sleep.
For a FREE initial minute consultation call 07770 591159 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or for more information visit the website www.theindependentchildsleepexpert.com