Wednesday, 4 November 2015

TOP 5: Daylight Saving and Sleep

For some reason unknown to me, some people tend to be more sensitive to environmental changes than others. When the weather is about to turn, I can feel the barometric change in the form of a headache. You have undoubtedly met people who experience “rain pain” in their backs or knees, and so forth. In the same vein, some children are much more aware of the lack of light that this season brings.

My son is reeling badly from daylight saving; getting tired much earlier, feeling restless in the early stages of sleep, and the dreaded extremely early rising. Starting my day well before 5am is too much for me, especially multiple days in a row. So what can we do about it? I’ve researched the top 5 suggestions for correcting scheduling offsets (regressions included)!

5. Prepare Ahead: If you know you are about to experience a shift due to travel (or because you knew about daylight saving more than a day ahead), you can start with gradual shifts towards the new time. Try off-setting naps by 15 minutes for a few days, then another 15 minutes. The same should be done with your whole bedtime routine as well.

4. Do Nothing: This might work to your advantage if your little one has been going to bed too late, or if your shift hasn’t taken a major toll. The classic grin-and-bare-it. suggests:

“If your baby’s is fairly adaptable to change, and is not sensitive to overtiredness, then you can simply do nothing, take the time change in stride. This means sticking to your baby or toddler’s normal schedule as best you can. The exception to that would be the morning wake-up time; that will likely be earlier for a few days, or maybe a week.” 

3. Don’t Fight It: As tempting as it is to coax your little one back to sleep by changing your normal bedtime routine, you might end up doing more harm than good. Just as Wee Bee Dreaming describes:

“Don't give too much attention to the nap/bedtime battles. You don't want to make long-term habits for a short-term phase. This regression will pass in time, but if you make a habit of now rocking the child, letting them sleep in your bed, sitting with them until they fall asleep (unless you are already doing these things), or skipping naps entirely, this regression now turns into a new habit for the child, one that will be tough to break.”

2. Adjust your lights: Being darker at 6pm and lighter at 6am might be confusing, even if you are an adult. Child Sleep Science explains: “Light exposure is what keeps the circadian rhythm locked into this routine and it’s only through altering light exposure that you can truly reset the circadian rhythm.” Making changes to how and where you light your home can really help. Use multiple light sources in your living room and play space until 30 minutes before you start your bedtime routine. Ensure your child’s room is very dark, with black out drapes if possible. You can still use a night light or other small source, so long as you don’t like the sky betray what you are trying to accomplish!

1. Go on with life: Just as your little one came to this routine, so too will they adjust to a new one in time. You still have the same start time at work. School, appointments, and errands still have to happen, so let the pieces fall into place. Fill your time by demonstrating the adjustment with dinner, bath time, and everything else a child uses to gauge time before understanding clocks. If your child is a little tired and off for a few days, that’s okay. By staying the course, with enough time and patience will encourage.

I know this doesn’t seem like much consolation when your own routine is off by the change. Believe me, 4:30 is not a time I care to acknowledge, never mind actively participate in. As with all things with children, change is the rule, not the exception.Your going to have things that throw off sleep; teething, colds, grandma's house... so take it in stride. No phase lasts forever and this is no exception!

How are you coping with the time change? Tell us your sleep strategies on Facebook!

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