This year the clocks spring forward on Sunday 25th March at 1am. For parents with children, especially young ones, the challenges of getting them to bed early is difficult as our body clock is not designed to move a full hour in one go. Here are 5 simple tips on to get them smoothly adjusted to the new ‘summer’ time zone…
1. Split the hour into smaller steps
For babies and toddlers who aren’t at school, use 10-minute increments over 6 days, bringing the bed times and nap times forward by 10 minutes each day. The adjustment would start on the Sunday before (18th March this year) so by the time it gets to the ‘clocks change weekend’ your little ones have already adjusted to British Summer Time. If you miss this deadline and have less than six days, then change the steps accordingly splitting the hour down into even steps.
For Children at nursery school, who have to fit into a school schedule Monday to Friday, 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 sync with the new time zone.
For older children, adults and teenagers bring bedtime forward by ½ hour changes on Friday and Saturday night.
All these changes are designed to allow the family to wake up on the Sunday having had the full amount of sleep on Saturday night. This makes it easy and straightforward to get everyone to bed on time on Sunday night, waking up refreshed for the start of the new week on Monday morning.
2. Adjust all daily routines
On the days you move bedtimes forward, adjust all meal times, bath time and nap times by the same increment too.
3. Exercise – a natural sleeping pill
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 because 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.
4. Use light to help set the body clock
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 and keeps us awake, is stopped an hour and a half before bedtimes.
5. Explain what’s going on
If your child is old enough, fully explain what is going on and why you are staggering the changes, telling them ensures that they will wake up refreshed for school on Monday morning. If your child is younger try clocks with a sun and a moon and tell the child that they must stay in bed as long as the moon is out.
Remember, even if it all goes wrong your child will soon adjust to the new regime so there is no need to be overly concerned at any stage if things don’t fall into place straight away. I hope these tips help you and your children.