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National Sleep-In Day Survival Guide for Parents

Oct 19, 2023

As National Sleep In Day approaches – October 29, the day the clocks go back and we all get an extra hour in bed, hurrah (for some) – we are encouraging British slumbertime with tips to help parents and young children cope with the change. 

While most of the nation welcome that extra hour, the time change can play havoc on sleep routines, and it’s not just children who struggle to adjust – there is the knock-on effect of sleep deprived parents. Those with early bird kids can find they’re up at 3 or 4 in the morning as their children’s body clocks are used to waking up at the crack of dawn, making for a looong day ahead. 

Luckily there are things parents can do to quickly restore the peace: 

  • During the day before the clocks change keep young children active – lots of fresh air and exercise – so they sleep well. But don’t totally wear them out as over-tired children are harder to get to sleep.    
  • If they wake up at their usual time, encourage them to remain in bed – half an hour is probably your limit! When the clocks first go back, mornings are lighter so if you don’t already have them, black out blinds or dense curtains will help to keep morning light out.    
  • Maintain bedtime routines i.e., getting ready for bed in the same order, for example, pyjamas on, tooth brushing, toilet, bedtime story. 
  • Turn off all screens at least an hour before bedtime. 
  • Offer a milky, warm drink to encourage sleepiness and avoid stimulating food and drink in the hours before bedtime. 
  • This is a good time to consider whether your child might need a new bed. If they have had a recent growth spurt, their current bed may not be supportive or big enough anymore. 

It is worth noting that children with good sleep routines tend to cope better with the changes in time as they know what to expect at the end of the day.  A good bedtime routine – teatime, followed by quiet play, bath, story and bed is typical.      

Good luck! If in doubt, The Sleep Charity has a helpline 03303 530 541 and lots of free resources on our website.