I’m sending a virtual hug and cup of coffee to all the parents whose children were up with the sparrows this morning. Daylight Saving Time ended at 3am overnight and while most people happily wind their clocks back an hour with the promise of a sleep-in, parents cringe knowing that it means the day will probably start at a painful time, like 5am (or earlier!).
Parents are very aware that either end of daylight saving causes bedtime drama for children, but it’s hard to know which is worse – the daylight streaming in the windows when you’re trying to convince them it’s night time (at the start of daylight saving) or the extra-early wake-up when it ends.
Australia is the world’s sixth largest country and is divided into three separate time zones, with Daylight Saving Time observed in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and the ACT.
While the end of Daylight Saving Time is probably an easier adjustment to make for children and their weary parents, it doesn’t take away the fact that it’s something out of our control toying with their volatile sleep routine.
You can make small, gradual changes to your child’s bedtime in the hope that they will sleep later, but you’ll have to work out if you prefer them up later or waking you in the morning. Tough choice.
Blockout blinds are a good idea. Used to help ease tots to bed over summer while it’s still light outside, the blinds can now help keep sleepy little eyes closed a little longer beyond sunrise.
Some parents swear by the use of a sleep training clock. While a child’s body clock might be telling them it’s morning time at 4.30am, a sleep clock will change to a ‘daylight’ picture at a time you set, letting them know it’s ok to get up.
Tizzie Hall from Save Our Sleep suggests putting babies to bed at 8pm as daylight saving ends, which should allow them to sleep until 7am under the revised times. If they wake earlier, try not to feed them until 7am, she suggests.
Most kids will adjust within a week – but be prepared for things to be a bit topsy-turvy for a few days.
The Sleep Health Foundation of Australia says thanks to that extra hour, ‘falling back’ isn’t nearly as disruptive to our bodies as putting the clocks forward at the beginning of daylight saving.
The body’s circadian rhythm operates on a slightly longer than 24-hour cycle, so being able to extend the day is much easier than it is to shorten it. The body clock is used to a little bit of extra time.