Dave Gibson


Clocks change

Sleep Tips For Children When Clocks Go Back

For those of us with young children when the clocks go back this weekend, it’s unlikely that the promised ‘extra hour in bed’ will come to fruition. Even worse,  the 7am weekend wake up cuddle has now become 6am! Not a great option when you have had a tough week at work.

Here are some tips to help get children through the clocks go back transition as smoothly as possible.

Tip 1 Migrate their sleep pattern slowly

Try changing bedtime over the course of a week, or a weekend, depending on age and temperament. This eases your child’s body clock into the new time zone rather than asking it to jump one hour in one go. For babies and toddlers (who are still napping) change their bedtime by 10 minutes per day over 6 days. This means by Sunday you will already be on the right schedule. For young children, it’s often easiest to change the bedtime in 15-minute increments over a ‘long weekend. This means it won’t interfere with waking up for school.

Tip 2 Have longer bath times

Make bath time a little longer to help stretch out the time in the evening. You are basically trying to add 10 minutes to each day in the week as you go along. This will also help relax your child.

Tip 3 Get them up later in the morning

As your child is going to bed 10 minutes later each day , they should be woken up 10 minutes later too. Use black-out shades for the morning time so the light is blocked out and children are not woken up earlier than planned.

Tip 4 Change their other daily routines

Adjust all routines step by step. If the bedtime changes are gradual – say 10 minutes over 6 days – then change the other activities by 10 minutes as well, including mealtimes, nap times and bath-time.

Tip 5 Change your routine too

Adjust your own schedule in the same way you change your children’s. It will make the routine move more easily for everyone.

Tip 6 Use props for older children

For older children consider using props to help to support the change in routine. Some parents use clocks with a sun and a moon and tell the child that they must stay in bed as long as the moon is out.

Tip 7 Relaxation exercises can help

If your child has difficulty going to sleep then try relaxation exercises.

A simple routine is to teach them to breath from their diaphragm by placing you hand on their belly as the breath in and out. This will help them relax more easily.

Other exercises include tensing and relaxing each muscle and limb of the body from toe to head. This is typically something i teach older children. They start by curling their toes up and hold for a count for 5 as they breath in. Then they relax their toes as they breathe out. Then they move up the body to the foot , then the lower leg. Then the hip and buttock muscles. By tensing for a count of 5 they can then feel the body relax bit by bit after. The aim here is to bring your child’s focus into their body, and away from their often over-active minds

If things don’t work perfectly don’t worry as most disruptions tend to be temporary. Most infants and children get back on schedule within 3 to 7 days.