Daylight savings and your child's sleep routine
As if getting children into a good sleep routine wasn’t hard enough, the commencement or end of daylight saving can add an extra element to the challenge of getting your kids to bed each night.
While moving the clock forward or back one hour is something that makes adults sleepy for a couple of days as their bodies adjust to the change, it can take toddler and older children a little longer to assume a new sleep routine but there are ways you can minimise the impact of daylight saving on your child’s sleep patterns.
How to change to and from daylight saving time
To change your child’s sleep routine to daylight saving time, it’s a good idea to try to get him into bed a little earlier (or later, depending on which way the clock is going!) in the week leading up to the time change. This way, his body clock will have made some of the adjustment already.
To change his body clock to daylight saving time:
- A few days before daylight saving starts, get your child into bed a little earlier each night – he may not actually go to sleep until his regular bedtime but by getting him to bed earlier, you are encouraging his body (and mind!) to relax a little earlier than usual and this will lead to falling asleep earlier too – it just might take a couple of nights.
- Don’t try to wear your child out in a bid to get him to sleep earlier – overtired children often actually take longer to fall asleep and may even resist sleep completely.
To change his body clock to standard time:
- In the lead up to the clocks returning to standard time, make your child’s bedtime a little later each night so that when the time does change, you won’t have a grumpy child on your hands begging for bed.
- You may find that while you’re successful at changing your child’s bedtime routine to fit with the change in time, he may continue to wake at his regular hour – which is now one hour earlier than usual! There is little you can do to control this but often kids who continue to wake early, get so tired after a week or two of the extra-early start to the day that they eventually start to sleep longer. It helps too, if you resist putting them to bed ‘early’ because they’re so tired from waking early!
Daylight savings tips
- The big challenge for parents during daylight saving is convincing kids that it’s bedtime when the sun is still shining!
- If your child struggles to sleep in the daylight, try making his room darker and take extra care to ensure that his bedtime routine is as sleep conducive as it can be. No rousing games of hide-and-seek just before bed!
- If your child keeps waking to early, ensure that he understands that you don’t consider this an acceptable time to start the day. Encourage him to doze but if he really wants to be awake, encourage him to stay in bed doing a quiet activity. Some parents put a clock beside their child’s bed and explain what time it has to be before they can get up for the day!
- Children with good sleep routines –have a quiet time routine before bed, stay in their bed through the night and don’t need help to get to sleep – cope well with the changes in time as they know what to expect at the end of the day regardless of the time.
- Generally it takes about a week after the clocks have changed for everyone, no matter what age, to be in a new sleeping pattern so try to have patience if you have a tired and grumpy child on your hands in the days after the time change.
When does daylight saving start and finish?
Daylight saving begins on the last Sunday in September and ends on the first Sunday in April - a total of 27 weeks.
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