With the clocks going forward on Sunday, 29th March at 1am, many parents will have to deal with the changes that Daylight Saving Time (DST) can bring to their household routine. Paediatric sleep expert and author Lucy Wolfe shares some tip tips on how to manage the change.

"Try and do your best to prepare your child for this transition by ensuring that they are well rested in the run-up to DST. Pay specific attention to day time sleep and fill this need as much as possible," says Lucy.

"Also, make sure that you have blackout blinds and a sleep-friendly environment to help with going to sleep and to avoid unnecessary early rising although this is often a chance for routine early risers to improve their wake time."

Lucy suggested two different options that may work for parents:

Option 1: Gradual Adjustment Approach
Consider moving your child's schedule earlier by 15 minutes every day from this Wednesday 25th March. Adjust meals and naps times 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 minutes earlier than normal or just don't start the day before 6am or awake later than 7:15am.

Provide nap, meals, and feeds 15 minutes earlier all day along with a bedtime that is 15 minutes earlier than the day before.

Repeat this routine on Thursday and Friday so that by Saturday night, your original bedtime has been adjusted 1 hour earlier than last week.

Based on 7pm bedtime:

  • Wednesday bedtime: 645pm
  • Thursday bedtime: 630pm
  • Friday bedtime: 615pm
  • Saturday bedtime 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 to do nothing until the day of the change, make sure you either treat any wake before 6.30am "new time" as night time and wake your child by 07:30am "new time" Sunday 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.

Some things to note:

1. 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.  

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 7:30am "new time" each day so that the internal body clock is not interrupted disrupting your nap and bedtime rhythm. 

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 transition5.  If necessary add an extra 10-15 minutes to your current bedtime routine to help with this transition 

- Written by Sinead Harrington

Lucy Wolfe, CGSC, MAPSC, is a paediatric sleep consultant, author of the bestselling book The Baby Sleep Solution and All About The Baby Sleep Solution and mum of four children. She also runs a private sleep consulting practice. See www.sleepmatters.ie, t: 087 2683584 or e: lucy@sleepmatters.ie.