Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the Free Press
1:00 AM 23rd March 2024

How The Clocks Going Forward Can Affect Your Sleep

Photo supplied by Coast Road Furniture
Photo supplied by Coast Road Furniture
It’s common to feel out of sorts for a few days when the clocks go forward in March, but just how much of an impact can this can have on our sleeping pattern and energy levels? When the clocks go back in Autumn, getting an extra hour in bed might make us feel refreshed. But in March we rise an hour earlier, and many people find that they struggle to adjust to a new wake up time.

Some studies suggest that people never fully adapt to this, and instead the circadian misalignment of changing our sleep patterns can become chronic, causing us to feel even more tired (Sleep Foundation). But there are some measures you can take to ensure that you keep your energy levels up and get the shut-eye you need when the clocks change.

To help, Coast Road Furniture have brought together some tips to help you prepare for the early mornings ahead as we switch to British Summer Time (BST) at the end of the month.

Plan your sleep ahead

For many people, adjusting their sleeping pattern a few days prior to the clocks changing can have a beneficial effect on their energy levels, including how awake they feel when they wake up. This is because changing your sleeping pattern gradually is easier than giving your body a sudden shift in its waking and sleeping times.

So, try changing what time you get up and what time you go to bed around three days before the clocks change, adapting gradually instead of suddenly. This can prevent the jet-lag effect that some people experience when they shift between standard and daylight savings time. By changing your body’s timetable bit by bit rather than suddenly, you can ensure that you feel more awake.

Another measure that can help is gradually changing your mealtimes, as our digestive system contributes to a lot of our hormone production and the regulation of our sleep cycle. So, try gradually adjusting your mealtimes in line with BST too.

Spend time outdoors

When the clocks change, it’s a good idea to help our bodies adjust their melatonin production and find a new sleep pattern. One of the easiest ways to do this is to go outdoors, as the natural light signals to our brain when the right time for sleeping and waking is. This is particularly beneficial in summer, as the UK experiences more daylight during this time and so we can get the ideal amount of natural light during the day, helping us sleep better at night.

Many of us are stuck at work during the day, but working in natural light can be advantageous, too. Try maximising the time you spend outside by taking a longer morning commute, or taking a lunchtime walk. To go along with this, you could also try dimming your lights in the evening as low light signals to our brains that it’s time for sleep.

Build a better sleep routine

Having a good bedtime routine, also known as sleep hygiene, can really make a difference to getting to sleep at the right time and feeling more awake in the morning. So, try to avoid using your phone or other devices with screens for an hour before bed, and build a consistent routine that makes you feel relaxed.

The most important thing regarding your bedtime routine and sleep hygiene is consistency. Keeping to your appointed bedtime and being strict about carving out an hour before it to unwind is crucial to getting your brain used to relaxing at a certain time for sleep. Your bedtime routine should be individual to you, but reading a book has been shown to lower stress levels by 68% (Anxiety Centre). So, it might be worth keeping a book by your bed.

Limit your naps

If you are having trouble sleeping, then avoiding or limiting naps during the day can also help to ensure we’re tired by the time we come to settle down in the evening. While a brief nap can be restorative and help us feel more energetic throughout the day, if we incorporate too much napping into our daily routine, it’s often more challenging for us to fall asleep at night.

Based on some recent studies, the best nap length is 10 minutes (Sleep Foundation). This length of time is helpful because it allows us to rest without being long enough that we slip into what is called slow-wave sleep, which is a deeper type of sleep. Waking up quickly from slow-wave sleep can actually make us feel more tired and groggy, so it’s best to avoid it if possible. If you are going to nap, ensure that it’s only for around 10 minutes, and before 4pm. This way, it shouldn’t affect your sleep at night and can keep you feel refreshed throughout the day. If you are frequently struggling to get to sleep, however, you should avoid napping entirely.

The clocks go forward on 31 March 2024 at 1am