Clocks going forward: Sleep expert Lucy Wolfe reveals how you can change-proof your child's sleep 6 months ago

Clocks going forward: Sleep expert Lucy Wolfe reveals how you can change-proof your child's sleep

It's that time of year again.

Come the weekend, it's time to once again set the clocks – as we 'spring forward' by an hour at 1 AM Sunday morning.

If you are a parent, this might, of course, send you into a bit of a blind panic, worrying what this time change is going to do to your child's carefully crafted sleep routine.

And if this is how you feel, you are not alone. A recent online survey in America indicated that a whopping 77 percent of parents are concerned with the effect of daylight saving will have on their child’s sleeping pattern and as many as 59 percent of parents admitted they were dreading the potential disruption to their baby’s schedule more than tax return season.

Fear not, though, parents. Because we recently sat down with sleep expert and author Lucy Wolfe to chat all things sleep proofing – and she has tons of great advice to help alleviate all your concerns.

Her best tip? Don't wait until Saturday – start preparing for the clock change tomorrow (Wednesday):

  • Do your best to prepare your child for this transition by ensuring that they are well rested in the run up to DST. Pay specific attention to day time sleep and fill this need as much as possible
  • Make sure that you have blackout blinds and a sleep-friendly environment to help with going to sleep and to avoid unnecessary early rising although this is often a chance for routine early risers to improve their wake time

Option 1: Gradual Adjustment Approach

Consider moving your child’s schedule earlier by 15 minutes every day from this Wednesday, 25th March.  Adjust meals and naps times and of course their morning wake-time accordingly so that by Sunday you will already be on the new time on the clock!

For example, on Wednesday morning wake 15 minutes earlier than normal or just don’t start the day before 6am and awake no later than 715am

Provide naps, meals and feeds 15 minutes earlier all day along with a bedtime that is 15 minutes earlier than the day before.

Repeat Thursday, Friday and Saturday, each day waking earlier each day by 15m or not starting the day before 6am.

What this means, is that come Saturday night, your original bedtime has been adjusted one hour earlier than last week.

Lucy's routine, based on a 7pm bedtime:

Wednesday bedtime: 645pm

Thursday: 630pm

Friday: 615pm

Sat 6pm = 7pm on Sunday “new time”.

From Sunday morning onwards treat any waking before 6am “new time” as night time and wake no later than 730am “new time.”

Option 2: Splitting the Difference

However, if you prefer: do nothing until the day of the change, make sure you either treat any wake before 6.30am “new time” (5.30am yesterday) as night time or wake your child by 0730am “new time”(6.30am yesterday) that morning and then follow your daily routine, addressing meals, naps and bedtime as you always do but offering a level of flexibility, possibly splitting the difference between the old time and the new time.

This means that your child is potentially going to bed 30 minutes earlier than normal, they may struggle as their inner-clock may resist this, but within 3-7 days their system will adjust and your regular timetable will run just fine

From Monday onwards treat any wake before 6 am “new time” as night time and wake no later than 730am “new time” thereafter

  1. Bear in mind that we do not really want the time change to achieve anything, except that by the end of the week we are on the same time schedule that we have always been on prior to the spring forward.
  2. Attempting to the get time change to adjust bedtime later or create a later wake time, rarely has a positive result, often resulting in night time activity and decreased nap durations by day.
  3. Remember to wake by 730am “new time” each day so that the internal body clock is not interrupted disrupting your nap and bedtime rhythm.
  4. Treat any disruptions with my stay and support approach if appropriate and be predictable so that you don’t create any long term sleep difficulties during this transition
  5. If necessary add an extra 10-15 minutes to your current bedtime routine to help with this transition

 

Lucy Wolfe, CGSC, MAPSC, is a paediatric sleep consultant, Author of the bestselling book The Baby Sleep Solution and All About The Baby Sleep Solution and mum of four children. She runs a private sleep consulting practice with her 98% effective formula for sleep; she provides knowledge, expertise and valuable support to families across the country. See www.sleepmatters.ie t: 087 2683584 or e: lucy@sleepmatters.ie