On Sunday the 2nd of October (Saturday night), the majority of Australians will wind forward their clock to adjust for the beginning of daylight savings time.
Ah a sign that summer is on its way! Those lazy evenings, long walks and twilight…oh sorry that was before 3 kids!
So this change can mean a disruption to your baby and young child’s sleep patterns.
“The why do I have to go to bed when it is daylight question?”. Fair enough!
Newborn and younger babies due to their immature circadian rhythms tend to not be affected, but the question each year for those new parents is how to transition smoothly without any major sleep disruption?
My suggestion is slowly so now is the time to prepare!
Write down what time your child normally goes to bed, then put your child to bed 15 mins each night (or every second night).
So night 1 bedtime is 7pm (new time 8pm)
Night 2 bedtime is 645pm (new time 745pm)
Night 3 bedtime is 630pm (new time 730pm)
Night 4 bedtime is 615pm (new time is 715pm)
Night 5 bedtime is 6pm (new bedtime is 7pm)
In the five days leading up to October 2nd shift your baby or child’s sleep times by 15 minutes per day. It can be useful to apply this to naps as well as bedtime, to make it easier for them to last the extra time in the evening and not get too overtired.
Now we as parent’s can’t make our child go to sleep, so even if your baby stays awake, you are assisting and encouraging their little mind and body to relax, in preparation for the shift.
If you know your child is particularly sensitive to routine changes it can be helpful to start this process even earlier and only adjust by 15 minutes every two days.
Use your calendar to plan so you can ensure that you arrive at the correct ‘bedtime’ on the night that the clock is turned back.
What Else can Help? With the changes that come as we move into summer these tips can help:
Temperature– check room temperature. It should stay stable at all sleep times. Recommended ideal is between 18-22 degree C and 40%-60% humidity. A room that’s too hot can be disruptive. In fact, research suggests that a hot sleeping environment leads to more wake time and lighter sleep at night, while awakenings multiply. Our body temperature drops to its lowest point between 4-5am in the morning. Often you do need to adjust your child’s sleep wear, or change to more natural fibres.
Adequate exposure to daylight
A must for developing day/night routine, serotonin levels. Natural sunlight is a saviour when it comes to helping your child gently adjust their circadian rhythm (body clock). It’s important to try to spend at least an hour a day outside in broad daylight. For obvious reasons, sun protection is ultimate, so check your UV levels, and times of the day.
For day time sleeps: exposure to sunlight in the late afternoon has been shown to increase secretion of melatonin and better night sleeping overall. Consider playtime outside between 3-5pm-nap depending.
Watch what time your child is exposed too devices to. It can also be very helpful to restrict usage of devices that emit bright light (such as iPads, iPhones, television and computers) after sundown as these will impact your toddler’s circadian rhythms as well. Consider banning the EMF at least 1-2hrs before light’s out. If your child is experiencing bedtime resistance, then consider a few days without electronics completely.
Block Out Blinds
Winding the clocks forwards means that it will be daylight at bedtime. Portable Blockout or black out blinds are a brilliant “Must Have” if you don’t wish to put in permanent window furnishings. They can also double as temperature controllers, with some brands, reducing the degrees by 2-3 C. Make sure your child’s bed is not near the window. Stops wondering hands from double and triple checking if the sun has said good night!
Another visual tool that your child can see when it is time to wake up, or time to be asleep. So many types on the market.
AND FINALLY – Take a breath and be understanding!
It is normal for you and your child to feel the effects of the time change for as long as a week after the daylight savings time change. I call it the double ‘P”: Patience and Preparation is the key :-).