10 Top Tips for when the Clocks Go Back this October
The temperature is dropping, leaves are beginning to fall and the rain has started - autumn is officially upon us and thus the clocks will soon be changing. As we prepare for the cold winter nights, the extra hour in bed sounds like heaven! However, those with young children may know that this is not the case and unfortunately, the extra hour can cause distressing mornings and evenings.
Not to worry, our sleep expert, Dave Gibson, has 10 top tips to help you ease your little ones (and yourselves) into the new time and season.
1. Bed Time
Changing the bedtime can be said to be the hardest part of the new autumn time, so to make the process easier, plan it over the course of a week, or weekend, depending on the age and temperament of your little one.
For babies, try gradually pushing bedtime back by 10 minutes per day, this will make the change of pace more manageable – an extra late afternoon power nap may be needed for very young babies.
For young children, it’s often easiest to delay bedtime by 15-minute daily increments over a long weekend, therefore not affecting the school run.
For adults, change your regular bed time to half an hour later to ease your transition.
2. Get in SyncTo successfully change bedtime you will need to change the rest of the nightly routine. As their bedtime shifts, be sure to change bath time, naptime and mealtime to match the new routine. If the bedtime is being gradually changed – say 10 minutes over 6 days – then the other activities will need to be delayed by 10 minutes too. And don’t forget about you! Be sure to adjust your own schedule in the same way you change your children’s. This will make the hour change easier if the whole family is in sync.
3. Beat the Early RiserIf your child usually wakes before you, then you should consider smaller changes over a longer period of time to ensure the extra hour is fully accounted for. Alternatively, for a late-riser, you may find moving the bedtime back by half an hour rather than an hour will help (also giving you more time to get ready in the mornings!)
4. Promote Good PracticeOlder children will be able to understand what is happening when they gain the extra hour, but it is still vital that you help guide them into keeping a healthy sleep routine. Winding down in the evenings it the most important, as is prepares your child for a quality night of sleep. Encourage your child to take a book to bed instead of their devices!
5. Account for the HourMake the extra hour count by making bath time longer, doing some gentle exercises or adding another bedtime story (or two!). Make the most of daytime by keeping the lights bright and curtains open for a little longer to encourage your child to stay awake.
6. Bedroom environmentCreate the perfect night time environment by keeping the temperature cool and using black out blinds to ensure the bedroom is completely dark. Black out blinds will give a good night’s sleep and should also stop children being woken up too early by the morning light.
7. Eat rightTo help them wind down, always be careful with what food your child eats close to bedtime. Stay away from drinks containing caffeine and foods with lots of sugar, especially late in the day, as these will give an untimely boost in energy. Milk contains tryptophan, which increases the amount of serotonin, a natural sedative and is absorbed better if eaten with a carbohydrate. This is why a lot of old folk remedies include warm milk and honey. A banana with milk provides vitamin B6, which helps convert the tryptophan to serotonin. Another fruit to consider is cherries as they contain melatonin, which the body produces to regulate sleep.
8. Time activityPlan days with heavy activity in the morning, particularly physical activity and then a more relaxed and calm afternoon for the days on which you are putting the bedtime later.
9. RelaxIf your child has difficulty nodding off, then try relaxation exercises to help your children to get themselves off to sleep more comfortably. For example, get them to tense and relax each limb/muscle of the body in sequence to teach them how to let go of tension and bring their focus into their body. Also teach them to breather from their diaphragm by placing your hand on their belly as they breathe in and out. This will help them to more easily relax.
10. Don’t worryRegardless, any disruption tends to be temporary. Most infants and children get back on schedule within 3 days to a week.