The clocks spring forward this weekend heralding the start of British Summertime and bringing with it lots of positives – better weather, long summer nights and lighter mornings.
However, the negative is we lose an hour of precious sleep.
Some may ask what difference does that hour really make? But it does. It might only be 60 minutes – but it can be surprisingly challenging and waking up Monday morning may be even harder than it normally is.
Moving our clocks in either direction re-sets our circadian rhythm which means for a few days our own internal body clocks becomes out of sync with our normal day/night cycle.
How well we adapt to this depends on several things. Here are some of the more commonly asked questions when it comes to the clocks going forward.
How long does it take to adapt to losing an hour of sleep?
Within a day you should feel fine as our bodies are generally good at adjusting to one hour changes. Some people will feel little effect from the clocks changing, some will feel an impact especially if they don’t get enough sleep.
Will I feel worse the following morning for sleeping less?
If you have a good sleep pattern established, and go to bed slightly earlier the night before the clock change, then chances are you will continue to wake feeling refreshed. However, if you’re already sleeping less than you should, you could be in a little more trouble and may feel irritable, moody, have less concentration as well as fatigue and daytime sleepiness.
What can I do to re-set my body clock or prepare for the clock change?
Move bedtime a little earlier, just by 10 minutes or so, in the days approaching the clocks go forward. It won’t seem too bad come Sunday when you lose an hour.
Light plays a key role in establishing day/night cycles so expose yourself to natural or artificial light the following morning to help supresses melatonin levels and make you feel less sleepy. Make sure you go out in the afternoon and get some fresh air rather than napping as it will help to re-set your biological clock.
Practice good sleep hygiene to enhance your chances of falling asleep and staying asleep. Limit alcohol and caffeine intake, get some exercise (not too close to bedtime), switch off gadgets at least an hour before bed and create a calming wind down routine.
Create the perfect sleeping environment – one that is cool, quiet, dark and clutter free. Remember you need a comfortable bed to sleep on, a supportive pillow and appropriate bedding.