3 Easy Ways to Cope with the Autumn Clock Change
It’s that time of year again. The nights are drawing in, summer clothes have been packed away and we’re gearing up for pumpkin picking, Halloween, bonfire night, and dare I say it, some of us are already prepping for the big C - Christmas!
But before all that, there is the small matter of dealing with the clock change.
The autumn clock change can be challenging for children, especially those already struggling with sleep. When the clocks go back an hour, it means that children will be waking up an hour earlier than they are used to. So if your early riser was up at 5am, that will soon be 4am! Early rises like this can lead to fatigue, irritability, and difficulty concentrating, and that’s just for us mums!
But don’t despair, I have 3 simple strategies that can help you adjust to the new daylight saving time when the clocks fall back on Sunday 29 October 2023.
Let’s dive straight in.
The Gradual Shift
Because the clocks are falling back, we technically gain an hour in bed. That means the clock will tell you that 7am is now 6am come Sunday morning, which used to mean an extra hour in bed. Unfortunately, your little one doesn’t get the memo about this, has slept for a full 12 hours and is ready to go. That’s fine for the first few days, but after a few weeks, getting up for the day at 6am, or earlier, can start to take its toll on everyone.
The gradual approach shifts your child's schedule from the Wednesday before the clocks change so that they end up going to bed 1 hour later by Saturday. Meaning that after a full night's sleep, they will wake at the new 7am.
For this option, you are going to delay your child’s bedtime by 15 minutes starting on the Wednesday. So, if they usually go to bed at 7pm, you’re going to put them down at 7:15pm.
Then on the Thursday put them down 15 minutes later again, 7:30pm.
The same thing on the Friday, getting them into bed for 7:45pm.
And again on Saturday night, meaning they will be in bed 1 whole hour later than their usual bedtime, but it will only feel like 15 minutes later to them.
By gently shifting their schedule in 15-minute increments you’re not forcing a big change all in one night, allowing them instead to adjust slowly over 4 days.
This method works well for little ones who are still on a three or two-nap schedule and older children who may be sensitive to change.
Split the difference
This is a great option for toddlers and older children. Those who aren’t too sensitive to changes to their schedule, are down to 1 nap, or maybe dropping their nap altogether, and who can manage to stay up a little later for one night.
To split the difference, you’re going to do exactly that, put them into bed 30 minutes later than their normal bedtime. This means that after a full night's sleep they will only be waking 30 minutes earlier on the new time. Over the course of a few days, this will push back to their normal schedule on the adjusted time. Or they might even catch up on that missed 30 minutes in the morning and sleep through to the new 7am (we can but dream!)
The Push Back
For this option, you are going to put your child into bed 1 full hour later than normal. This approach is shunting their whole schedule to fit the new adjusted time. So instead of 7-7 they will effectively be doing 8-7 but still getting a full 12 hours of sleep.
This method is not for small babies who are on a nap schedule but can work well for older children either pre-school or school-age.
Don’t use this method if you have a child who is already overtired and struggles to go to sleep.
If you find that they didn’t sleep in as expected and are tired the next day you have a few options available to you.
A little power nap; let them have 30 minutes to play catch-up. Remember to avoid this being later than 1pm otherwise it will impact bedtime.
Or, get them into bed nice and early on Sunday night, allowing them to catch up then.
Whichever way you do this, they will be on the new schedule straight away.
Remember that it takes time for changes to settle in, so sleep may be a little off track for a few days. Don’t panic, it will right itself.
Other tips for better sleep
There are a few simple measures that you can put in place to ensure good sleep no matter the time or year.
1. Daylight exposure
We all run on a very clever built-in 24-hour body clock that is light-sensitive; our circadian rhythm.
This clock follows the day and night pattern. It can tell the difference between the sunrise and sunset hues, which signal that it is time to wake up and wind down. That is why it is so important to make sure that we are all getting exposure to natural daylight, even on dark dreary winter days.
So make sure you get outdoors for at least 30 minutes every day with your little one to help set their circadian rhythm.
2. A solid routine
Children thrive on routine and repetition. Having the same steps in the same order helps them understand what is coming. A typical bedtime routine may include some one-to-one calm playtime, a bath and a story before bed. But you can make it whatever you want. So long as it is calming and doesn’t go on for too long.
Doing this every night before bed is proven to help your little one fall asleep more easily and stay asleep. If you’re not sure how to get a good routine in place, book in for a free call and we can talk about how I can help you.
3. Make it dark
If you don’t have them already, definitely invest in a good blackout bind. I love this portable one and use it in my daughter's room all year round. Cheek the middle aisle at Aldi as they often have them there.
Check the temperature and dress them accordingly. At this time of year, consider putting them into a 2.5 tog sleep bag with long-sleeved pyjamas. I am a big fan of sleep bags as it helps them to maintain a constant temperature throughout the night, and you don’t have to worry about popping in to ensure they haven’t kicked off their covers.
5. White Noise
White noise can be a great resource for helping little ones zone out and switch off, as well as drowning out external sounds. You don’t need a fancy machine for this. You can simply use a tablet or smart speaker and select a white noise track on YouTube or Spotify. My top tip is to have the device positioned between the external sound and your little one. So if you live on a noisy street have it by the window. If you have a dog that barks a lot, have it by the bedroom door. This way you create a curtain of sound that drowns out those noises.
If you want more specific help or have any questions drop me a message.