The Sleep Council clock-300x300 How The Clocks Going Forward Affects Sleep  So British Summertime kicks in this Sunday (yay!) when the clocks go forward and we lose an extra hour in bed (boo!).

But what effect does this have on your sleep? When the clocks go forward, many find it hard to adjust to the time change as our body clocks have to be re-set. Although it is only an hour, it can take weeks for some people to get back into their routine and feel normal again.

Those who are getting seven to eight hours of good quality sleep, and go to bed a little early the night before, will probably cope ok with the loss of 60 minutes kip. However if you are already sleep-deprived, getting by on six hours or less, you’re more likely to suffer the effects of that lost hour. These effects can be anything from lapses in performance, concentration, and memory as well as fatigue and daytime sleepiness.

Some studies have shown that the impact of losing an hour of sleep can also be more serious than just feeling a little out of sorts. Researchers have shown that there is a slight increase in road traffic accidents in the days after the clocks go forward, much like the slight increase when the clocks go back.

So if you’re someone who feels the effects of losing an hour’s sleep, try following the tips below to help yourself adapt to the time changes.

  • 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 with that in mind 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, it’s time to look at replacing it.
  • Keep the bedroom as dark as possible. Light suppresses the secretion of the sleep-inducing substance melatonin. So 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. And by this we mean create a sleep-friendly environment that enhances your chances of falling asleep, staying asleep and sleeping well. This includes a cool temperature (around 18 degrees), eliminating distractions (ie banning mobiles, tablets etc in the hours before bed), reducing your caffeine and alcohol intake and implementing a good wind down routine to help you relax (think a warm bath, a milky drink and reading a book).

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.

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