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Managing your children's sleep when the clocks go back an hour on Halloween, Sunday, October 31 2021



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The clocks go back on Sunday morning - giving households an extra hour in bed or an extra hour to prepare for Halloween.

But how best can families manage the longer day, the excitement of Sunday night, the potential for a sugar high and still make sure the kids get to bed nicely for the first day of term on Monday morning? We've some top tips for ensuring the autumnal clock change passes without too many scary stories:

The clocks change just before the start of the new term. Picture: Adobe Stock Image.
The clocks change just before the start of the new term. Picture: Adobe Stock Image.

1. Gradually shift your child's body clock

Gradually shifting children's body clocks to make bedtime later in the run up to Sunday should mean they've adjusted by the end of the weekend. And as it is half term, many families may find this happens naturally as the constraints and routines for school are thrown out the window for a short period.

If you use a Gro-clock for your toddler or any other sort of child-friendly alarm, altering it a few days in advance will also help change their body clock too, as would gently shifting the times of other aspects of their routine such as nap times and lunch and evening meals.

Wrap up warm and get outside to keep them going throughout the afternoon. Picture credit: FamVeld.
Wrap up warm and get outside to keep them going throughout the afternoon. Picture credit: FamVeld.

2. Get outside

We all know from our months in lockdown how beneficial and more awake getting outside can make us feel. If the kids are flagging by Sunday afternoon bundle them into some warm clothes and head outside.

Swedish research, says the Sshhhh Sleep Consultancy, has proved that late afternoon outdoor light can aid good night time sleep. The exposure to outside light and fresh air should help if they're getting sleepy by late afternoon and prevent their bedtime falling too early and leading to an early morning wake up call.

Equally avoiding tablets, televisions or any other gadget closer to bedtime which emit blue light, will help ensure production of the sleep hormone melatonin isn't inhibited in the run up to bedtime.

Open the curtains, wake them up and try and get them up at a normal time
Open the curtains, wake them up and try and get them up at a normal time

3. Get them up at the normal time

If you've a busy day on Sunday and the potential for a busy evening there may be the temptation to let them sleep in. But doing so will make it harder for them to adjust to the new sleep and wake-up times as they move through the next week.

Try and get your children up around their normal time, open curtains for natural day light, windows for a little fresh air and don't be afraid to make a little noise to let them know the day has well and truly started.

Sugary foods won't aid good sleep and so the advice is to restrict them before bedtime. Picture: Adobe Stock Image.
Sugary foods won't aid good sleep and so the advice is to restrict them before bedtime. Picture: Adobe Stock Image.

4. Watch their diet

Sugary, processed foods can make you feel sluggish and we all know the peaks and troughs that a heady intake of sugar can create in little ones.

Sleep experts at Mattress Next Day say what your child eats close to bedtime can also contribute to whether they have a good or bad night’s sleep and foods such as oat biscuits, bananas and milk contain an amino acid called tryptophan that makes them feel drowsy and, therefore, more likely to fall asleep. Bananas, milk and almond-based drinks are also rich in melatonin which will also aid sleep. So if you are likely to let them enjoy some Halloween treats on Sunday, try and place an adequate gap between them and the foods that they eat just before bed.

A 20 minute power nap is advised for anyone struggling to make it to bedtime.
A 20 minute power nap is advised for anyone struggling to make it to bedtime.

5. Embrace a power nap

If you or your child is struggling to make it through the day, have a 20 minute power nap, suggests Lisa at Shhhh Sleep Consultancy, but try to avoid the full sleep cycle of one and a half hours.

The latter will disrupt sleep patterns and make it much more difficult to settle down at a sensible hour on Sunday that will be key to a good Monday morning wake up time.



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