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On Sunday 25 October 2020 the clocks are set to go backwards by 1 hour otherwise known as the Autumn fall back.

That means sunrise and sunset will be an hour earlier than the day before. Evenings will become dark but the mornings will be lighter. Hello beautiful sunrises for us all to see.

Looking on the bright side it means an extra hour in bed on the Sunday. Although note I say an extra hour in bed not necessarily asleep, especially if you have kids!

It also means that if you already have an early riser – your morning just got earlier. But on the positive side this temporary disruption to our circadian rhythms is a time for change and a great opportunity to review and get a positive plan in place to improve general sleep and settling habits.

Here are some tips to help you navigate through the time change.

1. Stick to your usual bedtime routine – even though the time of the routine will change

Nothing helps to prepare your little ones for sleep like having the same steps in the same order every night. Your children might not be able to tell the time but they will be able to understand the bedtime cues you set with your routine.

2. Avoid blue light before bed

Avoid blue light from TV’s, iPad or screens 1 hour before bed as this will impact on the production of those lovely sleepy hormones. Instead of trying to keep your little one awake later to accommodate the clock change by watching TV – enjoy an age appropriate quiet activity with them instead. This could be reading, puzzles, drawing, sorting into shapes or quiet play with a favourite toy.

3. Watch out for overtiredness

The clock change means your child’s bedtime needs to shift 1 hour later, so as you are making this transition watch out for overtiredness before bedtime as this can create its own set of problems like difficulty settling, early rising and frequent waking through the night. Introducing a temporary afternoon cap nap can really help for the younger ones and offer some quiet time for the older ones to have a break from the busyness of their day to simply relax and chill out.

4. Adjusting bedtime – Choose the approach you feel is best suited to your child

Option 1 – Gradual shift – for sensitive/younger children

You’ve most likely heard of the ‘gradual adjustment’ technique, and whilst it works well for some, it can become quite confusing for others. Think about how sensitive to change your little one is. If change has a big impact, then this technique is for you. If they are easy-going this schedule probably wont benefit them much.

This approach works by moving your child’s bedtime in 15-minute increments over the four days prior to the clock change:

Wednesday night bedtime is 7.15pm

Thursday night bedtime is 7.30pm

Friday night bedtime is 7.45pm

Saturday night bedtime is 8pm. (Then the clocks go back in the middle of the night)

Sunday night bedtime is the new 7pm

Option 2 – Cold Turkey Approach – for adaptable/older kids

This is the fuss free approach and good for kids who are adaptable and enjoy going with the flow. Simply keep your child up an hour later on the Saturday night for example of they normally go to bed at 7pm, try to stretch them out to 8pm.

If you are lucky enough to have a child who always has the same amount of sleep each night regardless of bedtime, then in theory they should wake an hour later the following morning which will be their usual time and they have adjusted to the new time difference.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Some little ones will struggle to make it to 8pm on the Saturday, which could make things difficult. Over-tired, grumpy little ones can lead to night-waking or an unusually early start for parents.

If you suspect this might happen to your child, here’s some suggestions.

• If your child is still taking regular naps, add in an extra mid-afternoon catnap.

• If he/she doesn’t take naps, add in a short, one-off nap in the afternoon. A long car ride perhaps?

Option 3 – Split the Difference approach

Your final option is to split the difference. This means simply adjusting by 30 mins the first night and then 30 mins the second. So put your little one to bed at 7:30pm if bedtime is normally 7pm on the Saturday night, then 8pm on the Sunday night. This is a good all round approach for most children as it’s a manageable time shift and means in a couple of nights you are on your new schedule.

5. Dealing with early morning wake ups

With the clock change, the amount of light in your child’s room will also change which can affect their melatonin levels (melatonin is a hormone associated with the onset of sleep.) If there is light coming into their bedroom it will signal their bodies to wake up. So, keep the room dark with black out blinds so the new light mornings don’t confuse their body clocks any further.

If your little one is waking early for example if they are used to waking at 6am which will make it 5am, try not to get them up straight away. To help set their body clock to the later time keep them in their dark sleep space a little longer every few days. You can adjust the time based on how your little one is responding but 15-30 mins is a good guide.

Hunger will also be a cause for them to potentially wake earlier. If your little one is used to feeding at 6am then this will become 5am. So gradually pushing the first feed of the day later by 15 mins every few days will help their hunger adjust to the new time.

6. Get some daylight

Get your family out in the daylight and fresh air in the morning to help regulate melatonin levels.

Ultimately, you know your child best so you’ll be able to identify which plan will work best for you- all I suggest is make sure you have a plan in place to avoid a horribly early wake up call on Sunday morning!

Wishing you a happy lie in.

Leigh. x

Does your child start waking hourly after a couple hours of good sleep? Then this blog is for you!

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