When we spring forward to British Summertime, most of us are glad to see the back of winter – however we’re not glad to lose an hour of sleep.
In fact, many people find it hard to adjust to the time change as it affects their body clocks and their sleep – anything from lapses in performance, concentration, and memory as well as fatigue and daytime sleepiness. Although it is only an hour, it can take weeks for some people to get back into their routine and feel normal again.
This year the day the clocks go forward falls on the same weekend as Easter, making it the ideal recovery period, and while your internal body clock should adjust in several days, the following tips will help you adapt:
• Stick to your normal weekday sleep schedule on the weekend of the time change. You often stay up later and sleep in later at a weekend but if you stick to your regular hours then that lost hour won’t have such a big impact.
• Move bedtime a little earlier, just by 10 minutes or so, in the days approaching the clocks going forward. It won’t seem too bad come Sunday when you lose those precious 60 minutes.
• Stay in bed and sleep for as long as normal on Sunday morning and use Easter Monday as an extra ‘recovery’ day.
• Make sure your bed is comfortable. It’s difficult to get deep, restful sleep on one that’s too soft, too hard, too small or too old. If it’s older than seven years, maybe use the long weekend to look at replacing it.
• Dim the lights earlier on nights leading up to the time change. Light suppresses the secretion of the sleep-inducing substance melatonin. It is important to expose yourself to the light during the waking hours as much as possible, and conversely, do not expose yourself to bright light when it is dark outside.
• Practice good sleep hygiene. Create a sleep-friendly environment that enhances your chances of falling asleep, staying asleep and sleeping well. This includes a cool temperature (around 16-18 degrees) and eliminating distractions (ie banning mobiles, tablets etc in the hour before bed).
• Try not to overindulge in chocolate, food and alcohol over the Easter weekend. These all have a negative impact on sleep. If you get a craving to eat your Easter egg before bed, switch it for a milky hot chocolate instead.
• If you can’t sleep, don’t lie there worrying about it. Get up and do something you find relaxing until you feel sleepy again – then go back to bed.