Sleep Consultant

How to Ease Children into the Fall Time Change

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November 5, 2017 at 2:00am, is the end of daylight savings and the joyous day of the year that you get an next hour of sleep…. Do you remember those days? They are a distant memory … Just like sleep, sleeping past 7am on the weekend for me.

The time change happens twice a year. If not prepared it can mess with everyone's sleep, especially childrens. We work so hard to get our children good quality sleep (night time and naps) along with a good routines. Changing sleep patterns, even by an hour can create challenges for your children.  

Adults usually take 1 day per hour of change while children can take a couple of weeks.  Even if it takes that long remember you will slowly get back into the routine.

The time change affects much more than just sleep. Our internal clocks take a few days to make the adjustments because our bodies are so complex. Sleep has a role in appetite, drive for rest, moods, emotions, immune system, stress, memory, learning and the list goes on.

#1 - Be prepared -understanding the complexity of sleep and creating a plan to systematically guide your children through this time change will help everyone. It will take a little work, but once they adjust they will be back to normal sleep patterns.

#2 - Learn from our children's past (if applicable) -  How have your kids adjusted to time changes? Have you tried to handle it cold turkey and run into problems? Have you had success with a gradual transition? If something has worked for your child this is a great starting point.  Building on your past experiences can help you create a plan for this year.

#3 - Use your current routine Your current sleep routine provides sleep cues for your children and helps them know it’s time to relax and sleep. Continue to use what they know and understand.

#4 - Give yourself time to make the time change adjustment A week to 3 days will help to make the change gradually and thus have less of an impact on your day to day life. See the examples at the end of this post.

#5 - Everyone is different Every child is different. Some kids are hardly bothered by the time change while other kids can be thrown for days. Try not to plan very busy days or important activities. Relax and let them adjust.  Follow your kids’ lead and watch for the sleep signs. (extra cranky and rubbing eyes).

#6 - Have a plan Just like sleep training by having a plan you have an increased chance of staying on track. You know what to expect with early wakings and when naps should be each day. Being organized really helps everyone adjust to make this a straightforward transition.

Conclusion
Be prepared, have a plan, start early, relax and continue to believe that you will get through the transition.

If you miss the boat entirely and all hell breaks loose for your family you can slowly adjust bedtimes after the time change.  The time change can be hard on everyone.

I’m always here to help. Feel free to leave a question on my Facebook page @cheekysleeper or email me at alison@cheekysleeper.com

xx Alison
 

Gradual bedtimes the week leading up to a time change to allow for a gradual introduction of adjusting bedtime.

Sunday Bedtime : 7:00 pm
Monday Bedtime : 6:50 pm
Tuesday Bedtime : 6:40 pm
Wednesday Bedtime : 6:30 pm
Thursday Bedtime : 6:20 pm
Friday Bedtime : 6:10 pm
Saturday Bedtime : 6:00 pm
Sunday Bedtime : 7:00 pm

*All naps and wake ups should be adjust approximately 10 minutes.
** If you start on Wednesday adjust 15 minutes a day for both naps and bedtime

Back to School, Back to Bedtime

For parents and kids alike ramping up for back to school could be the most wonderful time of the year.  It’s August and the back to school merchandise has been available for a month. 

Regardless of the age of your child, back to school means a shift from care free days, to the routine days of school. You might have any or all of the following to deal with: early morning wake ups, tired dinner times and/or overtired bedtimes. Please take a minute to read the following helpful strategies to help make the transition back to school a little easier for both you and your children.

Early/Corrected Bedtime

Many parents are apprehensive of initiating early bedtime but it’s not something to be scared of. Keeping your child well rested will help both their academic performance and emotional stability along with a grocery list of other benefits. An earlier bedtime might be a great tool for those first few weeks of school. As your child adjusts to the busier requirements of their school days experts recommend moving bedtime back 10-15 minutes every few days till you find the right balance for your child. Most school aged children 4 years - 10 years old require something in the range of 10-12 hours of consolidated night sleep. If you know when you have to wake up your child you can calculate an appropriate bedtime.  This will mean a 4 year old should be in bed closer to 6:30/7pm with a 6:30/7am wake up.  An 8 or 10 year old might be able to tolerate a slightly later bedtime with the same wake up.

I highly recommend an earlier bedtime during the transition back to school to make sure you keep your household well rested.  As your child adjusts to school you can shift bedtime back 15 minutes every couple of days, until you get to your desired bedtime.  You will be amazed at the difference 15 or 20 minutes can make to your child.

A couple of weeks before school is set to start I would organize your routine to move the summer bedtime back to the school year bedtime. This will allow your children to slowly adjust to the new bedtime. This also means an appropriate wake up as well.

Prepare your house for Sleep by introducing Sleep Cues

  • Turn off all screens an hour before bedtime.

  • Introduce quiet games, puzzles, colouring, reading. Try and limit the rough or active play.

  • Try a Noise Machine that stays on for the night.

  • Darken the bedroom - blackout curtains will help.

  • Aim for a cool sleep environment around 20 degrees celsius.

 

Establish a short bedtime routine

A bedtime routine should be short and predicable. Bath, PJ's, Teeth, Story and final good night kiss.  This can be any short combination that works for your family. If you are putting multiple kids to bed, either divide and conquer or use quiet activities for your other children. 

Other hints

  • Have a family meeting to work together to come up with strategies for everyone to help with the morning and evening routine.

  • Give your children a choice when you can. Would you like to go to bed at 7 or 7:05 pm? What time should I wake you up 6:30 or 6:35am? Would you like a bath or shower? Which outfit would you like to wear today your blue dress or your red t-shirt?

  • Give your kids the chance to help when you have time.

  • Try and keep weekends on a similar schedule.

  • Use daylight to your advantage and get outside and enjoy fresh air and exercise as much as possible. This will help with your families internal clock reset your internal clock. 

  • Tidy the house and the bedrooms. A tidy bedroom can help your kids have a clear mind for bedtime.

Back to school should be an exciting time for your family but finding the right balance can be a challenge.  It might be contentious but for young kids I would limit extra activities to the weekend. This will allow your child to be well rested so they can excel both at home and school.

Please find a smooth transition back to school and the joy in your kids. Reduce extra anxiety with back to school so please take every day in stride. If you are needing a guiding hand to help preparing for back to school please reach out to me alison@cheekysleeper.com. I would love to help with your back to school plan.

Good Luck

Xx Alison

PS Don’t forget your first day of school photos