Save your sanity during daylight savings

We’re “springing forward” now and resetting our clocks, but the time change doesn’t have to cause havoc with your family’s sleeping patterns. A few simple techniques can ensure everyone has an easy transition into daylight saving. The Sleep Coach Cheryl Fingelson shares her tips for making it through the change.

For most people daylight saving means warmer weather and longer days, but for an already sleep-deprived parent the mere thought of losing an hour of sleep is daunting. For weeks before the clocks change, anxious parents already start to feel concerned about the effects of that extra hour, wondering if schedules will be upset and sleep disrupted. But regardless of the child’s sleeping habits a plan should be established to facilitate a smooth transition.

Basically there are two ways in which to do this:

1. Act as if nothing has changed

If choosing this method, simply move the clock an hour ahead after the child goes to bed on Saturday. Proceed with the child’s regular schedule according to the “new time”. That’s right! Pretend that it’s a normal day and in fact, if your child is an early riser, the time change may resolve the issue. Just make sure you remember to adjust all meals, activities and naps.

If losing an hour of rest causes a bedtime struggle, but don’t be too concerned, the child will adapt. If your child normally goes to bed at 6.30pm (which is really 5.30pm) they may not be tired enough to sleep. Don’t despair! Maintain the child’s regular routine and make sure that the room is “sleep friendly”- peaceful and dim. The child’s internal clock should adjust to this new time within a week.

2. Make it  a gradual adjustment

This less drastic approach is helpful for early morning risers or children more sensitive to change and disrupted schedules.

Instead of trying to force your child to sleep earlier, simply begin to move your child’s bedtime  by 15 minutes each day. Eventually they will be sleeping a full hour earlier. This gradual 15 minute incremental time method can also be applied to nap and mealtimes.

Tips to ease your child into daylight saving:

  • Keeping an eye on the clock is important, but also pay attention to the child’s sleep cues. Watch out for their tired signs which may be rubbing eyes, yawning or crankiness. Be as consistent as possible but realize that a degree of flexibility is necessary during this transition period.
  • Expose the child to bright sunlight in the morning as this will assist to reset the “internal clock.”
  • Rooms will be lighter for longer owing to the extra daylight so ensure that rooms are dark with shades or block outs for naps and sleep times.
  • Prior to the preparatory bedtime routine avoid bright lights and limit exposure to any electronics such as television, computers, phones or tablets.

Cheryl Fingleson is a paediatric sleep consultant. As a mother of two, she very well knows the feelings of agony and desperation when you have a child that struggles to settle and sleep. She doesn’t believe in leaving babies or children to cry it out, nor in the practices of controlled crying. Her approach is to empower parents with the right tools and techniques to teach their babies and children to go to sleep calmly, happily and independently. Cheryl is available for in home and Skype consultations at The Sleep Coach.

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