Kids and Daylight Saving Time: Tips to Manage Clock Changes

While non-parents might be indifferent to daylight savings or even looking forward to an extra hour in bed in autumn, for those with young children, the bi-annual clock change can be tricky, to say the least.

Whether we’re springing forward or falling back, when you’ve got little ones for whom sleep is already a challenge, the thought of them suddenly going to bed an hour later or waking up earlier can be pretty soul-destroying (especially when you’re trying to enjoy a precious 6 am lie-in!)

The good news is there are things you can do to help your kids adjust to clock changes and make the experience as painless as possible for your family. Here’s what you need to know about the effect of daylight saving time on kids’ sleep and how to manage clock changes – so you’ll all feel well-rested and ready to face the day!

Nora Kids Teepee Bed

Effect of daylight saving on kids’ sleep

The effect of the clocks changing on kids’ sleep will be different for every child. Factors that affect how well they’ll cope include their age, how established their bedtime routine is, and how well they adapt to change. Some possible effects on your child of the clock change include:

  • Finding it harder to fall asleep
    The change in daylight hours will interfere with children’s circadian rhythms and may make it harder for them to fall asleep at their usual time. They may resist bedtime for this reason.
  • Waking up earlier
    When the clocks go back in autumn, it will be lighter earlier in the morning, and kids may wake earlier. Time to invest in some blackout blinds!
  • Sleep deprivation
    If kids are struggling to fall asleep in lighter evenings or are waking up earlier, they might initially get less sleep than usual.
  • Irritability or hyperactivity
    As a result of sleep deprivation, kids may be tired (surprise, surprise!) but also irritable, hyperactive, or struggling to concentrate at school.
  • Changes to appetite
    Changes to your child’s sleep or meal times due to clock changes can also affect their appetite. If they’re sleeping less, they’re likely to be hungrier throughout the day.

    By this point, you’re probably cursing the whole concept of daylight saving, and we don’t blame you. But don’t worry: most kids will adjust to the new schedule pretty quickly, and things will return to normal (as much as they ever are with kids!) Here’s how you can speed that process along:

Tips to manage clock changes with kids

  • Move bedtime gradually
    The biggest tip for managing clock changes with kids is to move their bedtime gradually by 10 minutes a day in the 6 days leading up to the clock change. This means that by the time the clock changes, they’ll already be going to bed at the new time, and it won’t be as much of a shock to the system. If your child is in school and this isn’t feasible, you could still move it by 30 minutes on the Friday night before the clock changes. Every little helps!
  • Adjust other activities
    If your little one is going to bed 10 minutes later, ensure you adjust their other daily activities, such as getting up, naps or mealtimes, accordingly. This will mostly apply to toddlers and non-school-age children – check out our ultimate sleep guide for 2-3-year-olds for more tips on managing toddler sleep.
  • Stick to your bedtime routine
    Other than extending your evenings gradually, try to stick to a consistent bedtime routine that will teach your child to feel sleepy once all the activities are complete. A bedtime snack of cereal or warm milk, a bath, teeth brushing and a bedtime story are typical components of a night-time routine with kids. Be firm regarding how long you do each activity – don’t allow bath time to stretch out for an hour because your child is playing.
  • Ensure their room is dark
    One of the biggest ways daylight saving disrupts kid’s sleep is when it’s suddenly light outside while they’re trying to fall asleep. Counteract this by installing blackout blinds or curtains in the kid’s room and ensuring the daylight is completely blocked out. If your child is afraid of the dark, use a dim nightlight with a red bulb.
  • Create a sleep-friendly environment
    Noise is another big disruptor of kids’ sleep, so ensure other members of the household that are still up are being quiet. If there are road or unavoidable noises, a white noise machine might help. Additionally, make sure that your child’s room is at a suitable temperature (approx. 18°C is ideal), that they have a comfortable mattress and bedding, and that their room feels safe.
  • Avoid screens
    It is advisable to keep screens out of kid’s rooms, not just when the clock changes. This is because the blue light they emit interferes with the body’s production of melatonin – the sleep hormone – which can then make it harder to fall asleep. The NHS advises avoiding screens for 30 – 60 minutes before bed, so keep them out of your bedtime routine.
  • Be patient
    It might take a while for your child to adjust to their new bedtime. Try not to get frustrated if they resist or keep getting up in the night – just calmly lead them back to bed and tell them it’s time to sleep. If they’re struggling, you might like to do some breathing techniques with them or play some relaxing lullabies.
Lifetime Luxury Jump Up Childrens Bed with Pop-Up Trundle Bed

Feeling Ready for the Clocks to Change?

You’ve got this! By adopting some of the tips in this guide, you can minimise the disruption to your little one’s sleep and keep bedtime running as smoothly as possible. Have a question relating to kid’s beds or sleep? Get in touch with our kid’s bed experts now by calling +44 (0) 1305 231231 or emailing


With more than 10 years’ experience in providing advice and support to parents looking for their perfect kids bed, mother of 2, Nathalie Davis is passionate about helping children develop. In her role as Director of Product Procurement at Cuckooland, Nathalie has helped thousands of parents improve their children’s sleep and sleeping habits through the beds and mattresses she sources and the articles she writes. In her spare time she teaches her Golden Retriever to be a responsible vegetarian and is often spotted sifting through clothes at her local Charity Shops.

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