JUST HOW MUCH DOES DAYLIGHT AFFECT YOUR CHILD’S SLEEP?
With Spring nearly here and, hopefully, the return of sunlight to our mornings I’d like to share some
tips with you to ensure that your little ones don’t suddenly start deciding morning is here when the
The best environment for us all to sleep in is darkness, and I’m talking developing photos dark! It
helps to supress the hormones cortisol and adrenalin and encourages melatonin, the sleepy one to
be released. Our Circadian Rhythm (or body clock) is set by daylight, a reason I always tell families I
work with to keep the bedroom very dark at night. When your set wake time comes around take
your baby or toddler out of the bedroom, expose them to lots of light and make a big deal of it being
morning. This will even help with new-borns who many parents report do not know the difference
between night and day, they’re right! Babies sleep patterns do not fully start to follow light/dark
cycles until around 6 weeks of age when their circadian rhythm starts to develop.
With those light mornings coming around again make sure you have a good black out blind, and no
gaps where light can sneak in around the edges. We can turn over, when it’s light outside, and see
the clock at 5am and realise than we have more time before the alarm goes off, but your baby
certainly can’t and when they see daylight will quite reasonably think that morning is here. If the
dawn chorus from the birds is an issue then a white noise machine can be a great tool for drowning
out their exuberance! If you use one it must be on all night including bedtime.
Upon us again before long will also be the dreaded clock change, if I had my way there wouldn’t be
one. Not only does it really affect children’s sleep patterns, but adults as well. In fact statistically
there is an 8% increase in traffic accidents the Monday after Daylight Savings Time kicks in!
It really does have an effect on our sleep debt – especially in children who tend to be much more
structured with going to bed and waking. My advice is to “split the difference”. So if nap time is
usually 9.30am, it’s now going to be 10.00am (this will feel like 9.00am to your child) and the same
with afternoon nap. If bedtime is normally 7.00pm, this would be 7.30pm. This will mean that your
baby is going to bed a little earlier or sooner than the normal wait between sleeps, but not so much
that it’s going to interfere with their schedule too much. It may take them a bit more time to fall
asleep as they may not be so tired, but in a week’s time they’ll be back on track. Keep to this
amended schedule for 3 days and then on night 4, move to the correct time on the clock again. Give
it time; it may take a week, possibly two for your baby to fully adjust.
One in ten parents admits that getting their children to go to sleep is a 'struggle'. If you have a baby,
toddler or child who doesn’t sleep the night through then it really doesn’t have to be that way! By
enlisting the help of one of my Certified Sleep Consultant Team, your sleepless nights can be a thing
of the past within 10 days, often much less. They each offer a FREE initial 15 minute telephone
consultation so head over to the Consultants page give one of them a call today to find out more
about how they can help you.