As the days get shorter and the nights longer, we find ourselves preparing to "fall back" with the end of daylight savings in November. While we may gain an extra hour of sleep on the clock, the shift can disrupt our internal sleep routines—which rings especially true for our little ones.
To help parents navigate this transition, we tapped sleep expert Rachael Shepard-Ohta of Hey, Sleepy Baby to provide valuable insights on how to support your children during this time. Plus, we'll explore the connection between food and sleep, and offer a few tips on adjusting mealtime and choosing bedtime snacks wisely!
Make Gradual Adjustments to Bedtime
One of the most effective ways to ease your child into the new sleep schedule is by making gradual adjustments to their bedtime. Shepard-Ohta suggests starting about a week before the time change. Each night, move bedtime 15 minutes later until you reach the desired schedule. This method allows your child's internal clock to slowly adapt to the new time.
Maintain Consistent Wake-Up Times
While adjusting bedtime is important, Shepard-Ohta says that maintaining a consistent wake-up time—coupled with consistent daytime habits—is equally crucial. Ensure your child gets up at the same time each morning, regardless of the new clock setting. This consistency helps reinforce their internal sleep-wake cycle.
Make the Bedroom Conducive to Sleep
Creating a sleep-friendly environment is essential for a good night's rest. Darkening curtains can help block out early morning light, and a white noise machine can mask any outdoor sounds that may disrupt sleep. Keep the bedroom cool and comfortable, as a drop in temperature often accompanies the fall season!
Limit Exposure to Screens Before Bed
Screen time before bed can interfere with your child's ability to fall asleep. The blue light emitted by phones, tablets, and TVs can suppress the production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for sleep. Encourage your child to wind down with calming activities like reading or coloring instead.
The Connection Between Food and Sleep
Food plays a significant role in our sleep patterns, and making thoughtful choices can help your child sleep better. Here are a few tips:
Timing matters: Avoid serving heavy or large meals close to bedtime. A big meal too close to sleep can cause discomfort and disrupt sleep. Aim to have dinner at least two hours before bedtime.
Watch the sugar: Be mindful of your child's sugar intake, especially in the afternoon. Too much can lead to restlessness and difficulty falling asleep. Opt for healthier sweet snacks like yogurt or fruit.
Bedtime snacks: If your child needs a bedtime snack, choose foods that promote sleep. Foods high in tryptophan, such as turkey, chicken, bananas, and dairy products can help induce drowsiness. A small snack like our Ba-Nilla Coconut Milk Yogurt Alternative is the perfect choice.
Be Patient and Consistent
Adjusting to a new sleep routine can take time. Be patient with your child as they adapt to the changes. Consistency in your bedtime routine and sleep environment will help reinforce the new schedule.
Helping your children adjust to the new sleep routine doesn't have to be a daunting task. By following these expert tips and being mindful of food choices, you can ease the transition and ensure that your child gets the restful sleep they need. Remember, a well-rested child is a happier and healthier one, so invest the time and effort to make this adjustment as smooth as possible for them. Sweet dreams!