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Daylight saving and your child’s sleep routine

As if getting children into a good sleep routine wasn’t hard enough, along comes daylight saving which can add an extra element to the challenge of getting your kids to bed each night.

Whilst moving the clock forwards or backwards one hour is something that makes us adults sleepy for a couple of days as our bodies adjust to the change, it can take toddlers 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 them 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, their body clock will have made some of the adjustment already.

  • A few days before daylight saving starts, get your child into bed a little earlier (or later) each night – they may not actually go to sleep until their regular bedtime but by getting them to bed earlier, you are encouraging their 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 them to sleep earlier – overtired children often actually take longer to fall asleep and may even resist sleep completely.
  • You may find that while you’re successful at changing your child’s bedtime routine to fit with the change in time, they may continue to wake at their 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 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! Happily, the school holidays coincide with daylight saving and during this time, many parents are a little more relaxed about bedtime than during the school year.
  • If your child struggles to sleep in the daylight, try making their room darker and take extra care to ensure that their 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 too early, ensure that they understand that you don’t consider this an acceptable time to start the day. Encourage them to doze but if they really want to be awake, encourage them 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.
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