Daylight Saving 2024: Preparing Your Child’s Sleep Schedule

It is largely good news when the clocks go forward.  Summer is on the way and there is lovely stretch with light in the evenings that means that we can engage in more outside activities and this change and length in lighting can make a significant difference to our mood, and patterns of care.

The clocks go forward overnight this year for Daylight Savings – GMT on Sat/Sun 30/31st March 2024. 

One concern due to the extra brightness is that your child may begin to resist going to sleep at bedtime, leading to resistance and sometimes therefore a cycle of overtiredness.

  • It can be helpful to this transition if your child is typically well rested in the run up to the time change. This may mean regular wake times seven days a week, alongside regular bedtimes as well. If you child still requires a nap- generally up to age three, ensure that this is provided for and stay observant of mood and behaviours that may signal becoming over-tired and act on this.
  • As it will now be brighter at bedtime and in the morning time, it will be important that you now have blackout blinds and curtains and can isolate light sources that may enter the room and have an adverse impact on sleep in general.  A dark, warm, calm and sleep friendly environment can help with going to sleep with ease and may avoid unnecessary early rising due to light signally to the brain that it is time to wake up.  Fortunately, the time change in the spring time may also be an opportunity for routine early risers to improve their wake time, which can be a relief to parents.

To assist the transition, you can approach the change in a number of ways:

Option 1: Gradual Adjustment Approach

Consider moving your child’s schedule earlier by 15 minutes every day from this Wednesday 26th March.  Adjust meals and naps times, if applicable, and of course their morning wake-time accordingly so that by Sunday you will already be on the new time on the clock!

For example, on Wednesday morning wake 15 minute earlier than normal or just don’t start the day before 6am and awake no later than 715am, provide naps, meals and milk feeds 15 minutes earlier all day long, with a bedtime that is 15 minutes earlier than the day before.

Repeat Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, each day waking earlier each day by 15m or not starting day before 6am so that on Saturday Night your original bedtime has been adjusted 1 hour earlier than last week.

Based on 7pm Bedtime

Wednesday bedtime: 6.45pm

Thursday: 6.30pm

Friday: 6.15pm

Sat 6pm = 7pm on Sunday “new time”.

From Sunday morning onwards treat any waking before 6am “new time” as night-time and wake no later than 730am “new time.”

Option 2: Splitting the Difference

If you prefer: do nothing until the day of the change, make sure you either treat any wake before 6.30am “new time” (5.30am yesterday) as night time or wake your child by 0730am “new time”(6.30am yesterday) that morning and then follow your daily routine, addressing meals, naps and bedtime as you always do, but offering a level of flexibility, possibly splitting the difference between the old time and the new time.  This means that your child is potentially going to bed 30 minutes earlier than normal, they may struggle as their inner clock may resist this, but within 3-7 days their system will adjust, and your regular timetable will run just fine.

From Monday onwards treat any wake before 6 am “new time” as night-time and wake no later than 730am “new time” thereafter

  1. Bear in mind that we do not really want the time change to achieve anything, except that by the end of the week we are on the same time schedule that we have always been on prior to the spring forward.  If a later wake time emerges, this is a bonus and not a goal.
  2. Attempting to the get time change to adjust bedtime later or create a later wake time, rarely has a positive result, often resulting in night-time activity and decreased nap durations by day.
  3. Remember to wake by 730am “new time” each day so that the internal body clock is not interrupted disrupting your nap and bedtime rhythm.  The return to work and school helps with this within the first week.
  4. Treat any disruptions with my stay and support approach if appropriate and be predictable so that you don’t create any long-term sleep difficulties during this transition.
  5. If necessary, add an extra 10-15 minutes to your current bedtime routine to help prepare your child adequately for sleep time.  Make sure that your bedtime routine happens in the bedroom and is focused on preparing your child for sleep and not inducing it.