SUMMERTIME – It’s the same every spring. With the arrival of the sun, it is also the transition to daylight saving time, which will take place this year on the night of March 26-27, 2022. A time delay that can worry parents of babies or toddlers whose sleep is insufficient is still liquid.
Sunday at 2am so you have to add an hour and it will be 3am. That’s an hour less sleep for everyone. For parents, it’s a new addition to the sleep debt caused by having a child. In general, the changeover to summer time is more difficult to manage than to winter time.
“Less than 3 months, no impact”
For babies under 3 months, time changes have no effect. “An infant under 3 months old will adapt, he doesn’t have a sleeping and feeding rhythm yet,” assures Emmanuelle Rigeade, nanny. According to the professional, sleep “is only mature at about 5-6 years of age”.
“Babies learn to sleep their nights,” said Marc Rey, neurologist and president of the National Institute of Sleep and Vigilance (INSV). Changing the time when their sleep is very polyphasic – they alternate nocturnal awakenings and daytime sleep – will not change much for them.
After 3 months, the time change can change sleeping or waking times, which can become more and more regular. “There are two options: either we do nothing and we tell ourselves that the child will gradually shift over the next few days,” explains Emmanuelle Rigeade. Either we move it a little bit every day the week before. It really depends on the parents.”
The sun goes down later
The professional insists not to worry and do what you feel. “There are people who worry, children with a somewhat unstable sleep pattern who will suffer more from tiredness,” emphasizes the childcare worker. But if we put her to bed 10-15 minutes earlier the following days, it resets very quickly. Children adapt to many things, often faster than we do!”
We can possibly anticipate the excess of daylight. “It gets dark later and the child may not want to go to bed,” warns INSV’s Marc Rey. We advise darkening the room, shielding the sunlight with the help of shutters or curtains.” And thus helping the child to release melatonin.
During the day, Emmanuelle Rigeade advises making the most of the sunlight—while protecting yourself—and getting outside as much as possible.
The key to sleep: regularity
For the sleep professional, the key word is regularity. “It’s important to go to bed early,” recalls Marc Rey. In a March 18th INSV sleep day survey, we find that only 48% of parents put their children to bed at a regular time each day.
A pattern that is difficult to follow at this time of year even for some parents who, in order to be able to enjoy the sunny evenings with the time change, can delay and postpone bedtime.
For the educator, a general discrepancy is not necessarily negative. It all depends on the habits and rhythm of life of the family and when the number of hours of sleep that the child needs will be respected.
“If we can afford it, even mid-year we can change the pace of everyone, make the most of summer evenings and go for evening walks,” she believes. But on condition that the child does not have to get up at 7 a.m. for the nursery the next day.”
Less early awakening
This time change can have a positive side for parents of children who usually wake up at dawn. “A child who wakes up early, who normally wakes up at 6 a.m., will wake up at 7 a.m.,” explains Emmanuelle Rigeade. Psychologically, it’s easier for parents to live with.”
The most important thing, no matter what new rhythm we adopt, is to keep the same rhythm during the week and weekends. “If we shift the child around and keep changing schedules, they have more trouble setting their rhythms and problems with resistance to sleep can arise,” notes Marc Rey.
The doctor noticed another golden rule: no screens in the evening. “If you block out the sunlight in the evening but the child is exposed to blue light, it prevents sleep,” he recalls.
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