When we “spring forward,” on the 29th March 2015, it means the clocks go forward an hour, therefore the start of British Summer Time (BST). Ultimately it means one hour less sleep for you, parents (boo!). I think daylight savings wreaks havoc on our sleep schedules and can increase sleep debt in both kids and adults. There is actually an increase in traffic accidents the day after daylight savings, which just goes to show that it’s hard on people. We are already a sleep-deprived nation, so losing that extra hour only makes it worse (and more dangerous).
Clocks go forward
Although saying that, in some ways the coming of Spring is lovely, because it means summer is on the way and the nights will get lighter. But if you have a child who you’ve just got into a good bedtime routine, you might find that the changing of the clocks affects their sleep. Bear in mind that your baby or toddler doesn’t actually know the time – they use their own inner clock – use that to your advantage. The secret is to be prepared, and with just a little bit of effort you’ll find their sleep routine gets back to normal really quickly.
When you’re sleep training a child, this disruption to schedule can be especially frustrating. I get many calls and emails from parents wondering how to deal with the time change when they’ve finally got their baby used to going down, so here are some tips to help you prepare your little one for time changes.
Amend daytime naps in time for British Summer Time
You’ll probably find that after the clocks change your little one will be tired before their “usual” bedtime – for example, if it’s 7pm they will be tired at 6pm once the clocks go forward. Try waking them a little later, moving their daytime naps forward or letting them sleep longer during the daytime – this will help regulate their body clock and assist them with moving their natural bedtime an hour later.
Move bedtime earlier
Perhaps the easiest way to get your little one used to the time change is to move bedtime earlier by a few minutes every day. Start about a week before the clocks change and move bedtime earlier by just 5 minutes every day. They will not notice this small difference and within a week of the clocks changing bedtime will be back at its proper time.
Improve sleep pattern
If your little one normally wakes up too early then you might be able to use the clocks changing to your benefit. Leave bedtime at its usual time – so an hour later by the clock – and with any luck they will sleep an hour later in the morning, at least by the clock. So if little one normally goes to bed at 7 and wakes at 6, put them to bed at 8 (new time) and they will hopefully wake at 7 (new time), giving you a psychological lie in!
Create an illusion with black out blinds
Finally, another tip is to fit blackout blinds. Lighter evenings can make it harder for child to sleep, whatever time you put them to bed, using blinds keeps the daylight out and helps your little one realise it is time for sleep.