Sophie Bostock, PhD
Is there a hidden cost to the Clock Change?
It's that time again..Sunday am marks the start of Daylight Savings Time, or British Summer Time.
The good news is lighter evenings.. and parents whose kids currently wake them up at 5am will have a temporary reprieve!
But is there a downside to British Summer Time, aka Daylight Savings Time ? In this video I explain why there is more to DST than losing an hour's sleep, and a few simple steps to help you adjust to the new clock time.
Night owls tend to find it much harder to adapt to losing an hour from their internal rhythms.
If you tend to struggle, try the tips below..
How to Spring Forward with Ease
1. Start well rested
For any sleep loss, or change to our body clocks, we tend to be more resilient if we’re well rested. Make an effort to wind down before bed, avoid late meals, and dim the lights, to get the best quality sleep you can.
2. Ease into the transition
If you’re reading this before Saturday, you could start to shift your bedtime 20-30 minutes earlier for a few nights before the clock change… So for example, if you usually go to bed at 11, and wake up at 7am:
Thursday, bedtime 10:40pm, wake up at 6:40am
Friday, bedtime 10:20pm, wake up at 6:20am
Saturday, bedtime 10:00pm…
.. which means you’ll be better able wake up at 6am, which really becomes 7am on the Sunday after the clock change. To make it easier to feel sleepy earlier, also move the timing of your evening meal earlier, and dim the lights before bed. Changing meal timing is another handy signal to your internal clocks.
3. Stick to the same wake up time
When it comes to sleep quality, routine is king. If possible, stick to your ‘normal’ weekday wake-up time on Sunday morning. This might mean skipping a lie in, but will make the transition to Monday morning much easier.
If you feel sleepy later in the day, try a 15-20 minute power nap after lunch. If you’re very sleep deprived, you might want to try a longer nap of 60-90 minutes. If you do have a long nap, make it before 3pm, to avoid delaying your body clock, and to allow sleep pressure to build up again before nightfall.
4. Make the most of sunlight
Let’s face it, the big attraction of British Summer Time is the extra light! Getting plenty of exposure to natural daylight helps to keep our internal rhythms in sync. To feel more energised in the mornings, try and get outside for at least 10 minutes in the morning - take your morning cuppa outside, or walk around the block. Sit next to a window to help improve your mood, alertness and concentration.
5. Make it dark at night
It’s darkness that cues the release of melatonin and helps to prepare the brain and body for a restful sleep. As the days get longer, it can be harder to convince yourself to go to bed. This is especially a challenge for children, who will be going to bed in daylight. Blackout blinds or thick curtains are especially helpful in the summer. Use a night light with a low intensity glow if they are scared of the dark. An eye mask can also help if your bedroom is too light.