How to Help Your Child Adjust to the Clock Change
As autumn descends upon us and the nights start to draw in, the team here at Snooze HQ are looking forward to cosy evenings and lots of snuggles... but let's be realistic. Life isn't always Instagram perfect! On the 26th of this month the clocks go back in the UK and for some families this can result in one or two disrupted night's sleep. With this in mind, we turned to Lucy Shrimpton, The Sleep Nanny, for help. Throughout her career, Lucy has helped hundreds of tired parents and children around the world to win bedtime battles and finally gain the gift of a good night’s sleep.
With the UK clocks changing back an hour, I wanted to offer some tips on how you can help your little ones to adjust.
It is easy to get into a muddle when the clocks change, even though it is just one hour, but I wanted to try to make this really simple for you.
My recommendation is to immediately switch to the new time rather than try adjusting the schedule gradually. However I will outline a few options for you now.
If your child’s bedtime is normally 7pm, on Saturday night try to keep your child up for an extra hour and make 8pm bedtime for that one night only. When the clocks change in the night, you gain an hour, so ideally your child will wake at their usual time (i.e 7am) by the new clock time, and still have had his usual amount of sleep. Then, on Sunday night just continue with your 7pm bedtime by the new clock time.
Sounds simple enough right? The difficulty might come if your child struggles to make it through to 8pm on the Saturday night without becoming too over-tired and grumpy and then that could lead to night wakings or an unusually early start! So if this might happen for your child, you can:
- Add in a short nap in the afternoon, if he no longer naps.
- Add in an extra catnap in the afternoon for a child who is napping anyway.
- You can try the Split the Difference approach:
If you split the difference, you put your child to bed at 7.30pm rather than stretching out to 8pm. He may wake a little early by the new clock time but will get back into rhythm very quickly as you will return to a 7pm bedtime on Sunday night by the new clock time.
The other option you may have heard about is the gradual approach where you move the child’s bedtime in 15 minute increments over the four days preceding the clock change. This works well for some people but I think it can become quite confusing and not necessarily be of much benefit to the child.
The gradual approach works like this:
- 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
Many children are not affected by a small difference in time so it is simpler and perhaps easier to make a quick adjustment by doing the immediate shift.
You know your child best and you will know what will work for you but to avoid a horribly early wake up call on Sunday morning, I do suggest you have a plan in place.
You can find Lucy at thesleepnanny.co.uk