Adjusting the Body Clock

Daylight savings time always seems to come upon us so quickly!

Your child might be on a predictable schedule with naps and bedtime and all of a sudden you are left wondering what to do, if anything, to prepare for the change. There’s no doubt that if you did nothing, it might take a few days for your child’s body clock to adjust (just as it does for us adults), in which case your child could become overtired, grumpy or wake more often overnight. Some children naturally adapt to the change on the day, without fuss. Others do well on a more structured, gradual plan for the change.

The Dilemma

Body clocks aside, the tricky thing with daylight savings is that you will be putting your child to bed when it’s still light outside. Moving your clocks forward by one hour means that if you want to keep to the same schedule and get your child off to bed at the usual time, you might struggle, if their bedroom isn’t dark enough. Light inhibits the production of melatonin. This is a naturally produced hormone that helps your child (and all humans) get to sleep easily and stay asleep for longer stretches overnight. In addition to this, if the room is too light, your child will be more stimulated and more easily distracted by their surroundings.

What to Do

The way to combat this is simple. You need to block out all light from your child’s sleep space. You can do this by using blackout blinds or you can be economical and tape black plastic or garbage bags to all windows. Use rolled up towels against cracks in doors if you need to. It’s true, that going down this makeshift room adjustment road will make your nursery or your toddler’s bedroom void as far as winning any awards in the category of ‘best designed nursery or toddler room’, but if it means your child sleeps well, do you really care?

5 Top Tips

Every baby and child is different, so the plan outlined in the infographic should only be referred to as a guide. You might have to adjust it to suit your own specific child’s needs and family dynamic. Having said that, there are a few things that apply to all children, no matter what age.

1. The darker the room, the better your child will sleep.
2. White noise can help. It needs to be constant and played loud enough, for the entire duration of sleep time.
3. Continue your usual bedtime routine in your child’s (very dark) room using a night-light or dim lamp, preferably after a relaxing bath.
4. Despite the changes, stick to your usual bedtime non-negotiables and be consistent.
5. Teach self-settling. Children who have been taught the skill of independent sleep find adjusting to daylight savings time relatively easy.