In the Night Garden has teamed up with Mandy Gurney, Founder of Millpond Children's Sleep Clinic to provide top tips on adjusting young children's body clocks and establishing an effective, happy and stress-free bedtime routine.
By following Mandy’s five simple steps in the video below you can avoid those early morning wake ups following the clocks change.
Reset your child’s body clock
Gradually shift your child’s body clock by pushing back bedtime by 15 minutes a couple of weeks before the clocks change, then by another 15 minutes three or four nights later, and so on until bedtime is an hour later. Even if your child still wakes up at the same time, by slowly moving their body clock the morning will soon catch up. Adjust their nap and meal times in this way too to reinforce the process.
Let there be light
The sleep hormone melatonin regulates the body clock and makes you drowsy. As exposure to light inhibits its production, getting children to play outdoors in the afternoon helps in keeping them up a bit later.
Start preparing your child for bed by winding down in the half hour or so before beginning their bedtime routine. Relaxing activities such as watching a soothing programme like In the Night Garden, or the reading the In the Night Garden Bedtime Book, will help get them in the mood for going to sleep – but make sure to limit their screen time, turning off all TVs, tablets and computers an hour before bed, as research has shown that light from screens can interfere with melatonin production.
Is it time to get up yet?
Give your child a signal to let them know it’s morning and they can now get up and play by setting up a simple low-watt bulb light on a timer switch in their room, and explain that they must stay in bed until the light comes on. Each time you move bedtime back by 15 minutes, also set the light to come on 15 minutes later; coordinating this helps your child to adapt more easily. Initially you may have to stay in the room with them, but roundly praising them when they do stay in bed later should encourage them to adjust.
A good start
As you push back bedtime and getting up, also delay your child’s morning milk and breakfast by 15 minutes every few days. They’ll then be less likely to wake early expecting food – but if they do, avoid the temptation to feed them in the hope they’ll go back to sleep as you will probably just set up bad habits for the future. The In the Night Garden Bedtime Pack includes all you need to know about the clocks change and how to get your bedtime routine right.