Successful sleep has a lot to do with keeping a regular routine which helps set out body clock keeping our ‘circadian rhythm settled and healthy.
When the clocks spring forward on the last Sunday in March children, in particular toddlers and babies, can find it hard to instantly adjust to the new ‘time zone’. The loss of a whole hour, if not managed properly can turn a smooth evening routine into chaos as kids, especially babies, don’t understand what’s going on as their body clock is set at the ‘usual time’
Here are 5 tips to help smooth the process:
- Move bedtime back early – a week or a long-weekend works best
- Bedtime routine is key
- Plan an active Saturday
- Use signals to reinforce routine
- Be patient
- Start to move their bedtime back before Sunday. As a general rule use 10 minutes over 6 days for babies and 15 minutes over 4 days for children. However everyone is different, and some children cope with changes in sleep routine better than others so keep an eye on how they are in terms of mood and time to settle at night and adjust accordingly. Don’t worry if you have not got enough time before the Sunday to do a smooth adjustment in a sleep routine. The important thing is to change things at a pace which your toddler or baby can cope with even if you don’t get them onto Summer Time until later in the week
- Bedtime Routine: Having a regimented bedtime routine is essential in terms of getting young children toddlers and babies to sleep with the minimum of fuss. Our brain likes routines, developing good (and sometimes bad ) If your children have a familiar path to sleep such as tidy up time, bath time, reading time and then sleep time, then they understand and relax more easily as they anticipate the next part of the sequence. Thus when it comes to moving bedtime it is simply a matter of moving each of these signals ahead a few minutes as they still understand what should happen next. If they need further soothing, try including lavender oil in their bath or on their pillow, or light stretching to help them relax.
- Plan an active Saturday: If possible get outside in the sunlight and fresh air and do something vigorous and energetic to tire them out. This will naturally help them feel sleepy earlier. Making sure your activity on Saturday is physical rather than cerebral and stimulating is the best way of ensuring that they’ll be snoozing away by bedtime.
- Morning Routine Signals: Morning routine signals are also an important part of a healthy sleep routine. One simple technique is to open the blinds or curtains of your child’s room every morning so that they associate this act with waking up. The early morning light is our natural alarm clock, waking us up by stopping our brain producing the sleep hormone melatonin.
- Be patient: Whatever happens to keep bringing calm and order to the situation. All children will get grouchy and grumpy to some extent if they get less than their required sleep. Don’t worry if things don’t go according to plan, they will get back to their usual routine; it just might take a few later nights. If all else fails, some couples find it easier if one partner goes to bed earlier, then that partner can pick up any particularly early mornings during the transition.