Every March and October, I recite the rhyme we’ve all come to loathe, “Spring forward, Fall back.”
Yes, it’s that time of year again.
Despite it happening twice a year, preparing for the clock change can somewhat creep up on us. And springing forward is usually the hardest of the clock changes since we lose an hour of precious sleep.
But while we might wake up a little groggy, we are likely not to be as affected by the change in time as much as our kids are. And it’s this unpredictable nature of how our kids will adjust to the alteration of their body clock that worries us the most.
How long will it take for them to realign and fall into bed as they usually do without waking up at 5 am, ready and roaring for the day?
The good news is that we can use tricks to help our kids adjust to the transition, meaning better sleep for them and more for us. But first, before we get into those sleep saving tricks, why does the clock change affect us so much?
How The Clock Change Affects Us
Along with our disrupted sleep cycles, the clock change can affect our mood and productivity. We can lose on average 40 minutes a night of sleep until our bodies regulate. This lack of sleep can make us more prone to frustration or agitation, and we are not alone in this. Our kids can feel the same way, making them unpredictable and a little bit on the cranky side!
This tiredness can also make us a little more accident prone, temporarily at least, as fatigue takes hold. Additionally, our hormones can quickly fluctuate with this change in rhythm, meaning our appetite can also be affected with poor diet and binge eating quite likely. Is it any wonder now why our kid’s snack more around the clock, change and shuffle their carrots around the plate?
So, Why Are We Still Springing Forward and Falling Back?
Despite the European Parliament voting to remove Daylight Savings Time in 2019, we are still changing our clocks. We were led to believe that last October would be our last rewind of the watches, but alas, here we are, waiting for the impending clock change.
The reason we change our clocks twice yearly is to bring more sunlight to our mornings. We have been playing with the cogs and gears since 1916, after William Willett proposed the idea of British Summer Time in 1907. As with all things in the political sphere, it took some time for the changes to take effect, but as Willett described, we were no longer “wasting daylight” in the summer months once we moved our clocks.
The argument to no longer change the clocks lies in the perceived health benefits, having more time to be social with the sunlight pouring in, and more significant energy savings. There will likely be less social and economic disruption.
And yet, the pandemic halted not only our lives but also plans to curb the century-old daylight savings scheme, and it has since been left on the backburner.
Tips On How To Adjust To The Clock Change
We can help ourselves adjust to the clock change by doing a few simple things in preparation. For our kids, it’s a little trickier as their bodies have not been through this process as often as we have.
Erica Hargaden is a Certified Child Sleep Consultation with her private practice Babogue™. She is a Mum of three who has had her own journey with sleep challenges with her children. She gives us three routes to take this week regarding the clock change.
Route 1 – “Do nothing!” she says. “If you are consistent and jump into the change, then your child should adjust. If you have an already settled sleeper, this could be the option. Stick to their routine and things will fall back into place within a few days –remain consistent and don’t allow any new settling habits to form.”
Route 2 – “Split the difference,” suggests Erica. “On the morning of the change (Sunday, March 27th), wake your child 30 minutes earlier. So if morning is normally 7 am then wake them at 6.30 am – uurrrggghh I know! Do the same with naps throughout the day, starting them 30 mins earlier than you normally would. Then bedtime would also be 30 mins earlier. Then over the coming few days, start adjusting to the new time by 10 minutes every few days – then you will be in new time before the week is out.”
Route 3 – “Tweak the timings,” she advises. “With this option, you work on adjusting their body clock a few days out from the change. In the week leading into the clock change, put them to bed 10 minutes earlier each night. So if your child goes to bed at 7 pm, you will adjust this to 6.50 on night 1, 6.40 on night 2, 6. 30 on night three and so on until you reach 6 pm on the night that the clock change is going to take place. You will need to adjust morning wakes ups in the same way and nap timings. The logic is that once you get to the change, your baby or child will have adjusted to a new time ahead of the change. One of the most important factors for sleep is room darkness. A dark sleep environment will support melatonin production (the sleepy hormone) and thus help support the initiation and maintenance of sleep. If you have lots of light coming into your child’s sleep environment, their sleep will not be as well supported. With that in mind, this clock change brings with it super bright mornings from 5 am and lovely long evenings with 7 pm becoming a bright time of the day!”
And with all of this preparation, don’t forget to put your clocks forward by one hour this Sunday!
Erica says, “Once you stick to your routine and keep things as settled as possible for your child, you should get through this clock change without too much trouble. If the wheels do come off the bus for a day or two, don’t panic. Do your best to stay true to your routine and how sleep is approached in your household, and things will return to normal.”
Erica helps families worldwide get closer to their family sleep goals through her online sleep program, The Sleep Series. To learn more, check out www.babogue.com.