It is usual that over Christmas the circadian rhythm, known as ‘the body clock’, can stray.
The body clock controls the sleep/wake process and is established over time and will await cues/routines to be able to become an automatic process.
In holidays it is very common for sleep and wake times to be different, later or in fact
What can you do about it?
Well, the best idea is to keep a consistent sleep time based on what time your child is currently falling to sleep. You can support and regulate this body clock by having a consistent wake time (more on this in a few weeks!).
What we don’t want is a bedtime that is taking hours and hours and causing a lot of stress
on the whole family.
So how do we readjust the body clock if your child is falling to sleep later than you would like?
The body tends to work better in sets of 3 and 15 mins only. I.e., a 9pm bedtime that ideal you would like to reduce would go from 9pm to 8.45 for 3 full days then reduce again by 15mins and so on until the bedtime is once again at the right time.
That said there can be some stoppages along the way whilst the body readjust to this new time change so it’s important that we have 3 consistent nights of falling to sleep at the set time before moving it back. Also move the wake-up time alongside the bedtime for maximum results.
How important is a routine before going to bed and what should it consist of?
A routine is a clear and defined way of helping to strengthen the circadian rhythm or ‘body clock’. The body clock loves routine and the more we give it the same cues the more likely it will start to become an automated process meaning that we no longer need to stress about bedtimes, the dream, right?!
What are the top 3 non negotiables when it comes to routine? The stuff that really helps. (I will go into the science of this at a later date). For now, I’m hoping you are here because you trust me, even a little.
1.Darkness or a dimmer environment. Around and hour before going to sleep change the
environment so that it physically changes to become dimmer.
2. Include unwinding, preferably hand/eye coordination activities for at least 20 mins within the hour before bed.
3. Do not do anything that causes excitement or stress right before bed, yes google says to have a bath before bed, it’s not always the case, if it is stressful or exciting for your child
don’t do it! Teeth brushing the same, do this earlier in the routine. We want your child to
feel as calm as possible in the lead up to bed.
Why is having a set wake up time so important?
I have alluded to this over the last few weeks so now to explain why.
So, we build something called sleep pressure to help us to fall and maintain our sleep.
Sleep pressure builds from the minute that we wake up!
If our wake-up time is different each, our bodies have a harder job to be able to build the
sleep pressure that we need.
However, if we keep the wake-up times consistent the sleep pressure has the same amount of time every single day!
This will also really support the body clock to understand when we should wake up giving it the same cues so we can then automate this process. Amazing huh!