Autumn clock change
You could take 3 different approaches when helping your child adjust to the new time.
Take it easy and gentle on the lead up to it - make small adjustments everyday ahead of the clocks changing so when it happens your child’s body is ticking to the new time. You could start 10 days ahead and make small changes to your mornings everyday. This is particularly good for children who are more sensitive to changes or early risers.
Go cold turkey: On Sunday when the clocks have changed, just delay wake up times, naps, activities and bedtime by one hour. The wake up times will be a bit off for a few days but your child will adapt. This may be for you if you have a laid back child that takes sudden changes in their stride.
Deal with it after the clocks have changed: As it says! Start making changes just on the Sunday and through the following week. You might have some early mornings to start with, but most children have adapted to the new time within 5 days. This may be a good strategy for children who feel very tired.
So what to do?
What we are doing is nudging the circadian rhythm by one hour. When we talk about circadian rhythm there are two or three factors that greatly influence how it ticks
Light: Light may be the most important environmental factor influencing the awake/sleep body clock. So use it in your favour.
Temperature: Our body's temperature fluctuates throughout the day and night and in fact, it increases as our bedtime approaches. So we tend to sleep more comfortably when it’s on the cooler side.
Feeding: This also has an impact on our circadian rhythm (think about being jet lagged - having meals at the local times will help adapt to the local time quicker). But it is important to appreciate it is most relevant when your baby is having regular meals; this is likely to be happening from around 7 or 8 months.
Important note: if your baby is young or you are having feeding issues, it is best to skip this.
These are some gentle changes you can make to adjust your child’s circadian rhythm to the new time. Most children and adults will adopt the new time in around 5 days, but some children are more sensitive and will need extra support through this process.
Once you have all adapted to the new time, remember to have an overhaul of naps and bedtime so it is all ticking along. If you need help with that, you can book a one off video call with me and we can work out how to adjust your days.
Enjoy the Autumn!
I’m Karina and I’m the founder of Calm Sleep and I help sleep deprived parents achieve better sleep using a caring and holistic approach that takes a broad view of children's needs. I offer an alternative to traditional sleep training