Help Your Little Ones Adjust When The Clocks Go Forward
The beginning of spring is a happy time for us all, the Sun begins to shine, the days get longer and puffy winter jackets can be put away, but it also means losing an hour of sleep. Don’t lose out on sleep, prepare you and your children for the time change with these 5 top tips for our Sleep Expert, Dave Gibson…
- Routine is Key so get in Sync
- Create the Perfect Sleep Environment
- Physical Activity in the Afternoon
A good sleep/wake routine promotes good, continuous, healthy sleep so adjusting your child’s entire routine will ensure that you’re on track for a smooth transition.
Change your child’s bedtime gradually, depending on their age and temperament. For young children, try changing bedtime in 15-minute increments over a long weekend, as this won’t interfere with waking up for school. Babies and toddlers will benefit from a longer period, so changing bedtime by 10 minutes over 6 days until you’ve made up the hour. Remember to change bath time, nap time and meal times accordingly.
Alternatively, if you have an early riser, the clocks going forward is a good time to readjust your child’s body clock. Only change the time by half an hour, or leave it completely so a child waking at 5.30am becomes 6.30am (in theory) – much more reasonable!
Dark evenings and bright mornings will ensure that your little ones keep in sync. Dim the lights in the evening and close the curtains a half-hour or an hour before bedtime to encourage a sense that bedtime is coming – black out blinds are essential, as evenings stay lighter later. Make the lights brighter in the morning so that wake-up time is even more obvious than it might be otherwise. Also, ensure that the temperature is right for sleep, around 16 to 21 degrees centigrade is best.
Get outside and enjoy the fresh air together - your little ones will be ready to hit-the-sack come the early evening. Plan physical activity like swimming, bike rides or walks in the woods in the early afternoon for the days on which you are putting bedtime earlier.
- Eat to Sleep
Our digestive system and our sleep are intricately linked, with both when and what we eat and drink directly affecting our quality of sleep. So always be careful with what your child eats close to bedtime. Avoid drinks that contain caffeine and or food and drinks that contain lots of sugar, especially late in the day, as they can affect the ability to fall asleep. A banana with milk provides vitamin B6, which helps convert the tryptophan (found in milk) to serotonin. Another fruit to consider is cherries, which contain melatonin, which the body produces to regulate sleep.
- Breath & Relax
Meditation and relaxation are incredibly useful tools for helping your child get in the right mode for sleep. Ask your child to tense and relax each limb/muscle of their body in sequence to show them how to let go of tension and bring their focus into their body. You can help them to breath from their diaphragm by placing you hand on their belly as they breathe in and out, helping them to relax more easily. It may take time for you both to master these new practices but the efforts will be very rewarding.