Don’t forget your clocks jump forward this Sunday (March 26) and while we may breathe a sigh of relief that some better weather is on its way (please), we do lose out on an hour of sleep.
Although it’s only 60 minutes of kip, it can have a negative effect on your body clock with many people finding it hard to adjust to the time change. Some people suffer with fatigue, cognitive slowing, mood problems and slower reaction times when they miss out on sleep. Studies have shown an increase in heart attacks, traffic accidents and workplace injuries in the days following the shift to British Summer Time.
Here are some ways you can cope with the clocks going forward…
• 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. This is particularly helpful for those with young children.
• You’ll have already started to notice the lighter evenings and mornings so make sure you keep your bedroom as dark as possible. 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.
• While we encourage people to keep regular bedtime and waking hours, it’s ok to spend a little longer in bed on the Sunday. Be careful not to sleep in too long though as this could impact on your body clock the following day. You could always try going to bed a little earlier on Sunday night too.
• Although Easter is quite late this year (Easter Sunday is on 16 April 2017), this long weekend can act as an ideal recovery time, so stay in bed and sleep for as long as normal on Sunday morning and make the most of Easter Monday with an extra lie in.
• 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).
• It may sound obvious, but is your bed as comfortable as it could be? 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 a replacement.
• Try not to overindulge in chocolate, food and alcohol over the clock change weekend, as these all have a negative impact on sleep. Our recent survey found one in four of us use alcohol as a sleeping aid – don’t! While you may feel it relaxes you, it hinders sleep quality and you wake more because you’re dehydrated and often need the loo more! Switch to something more calming like chamomile tea.
• 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.
• Remember to change ALL your clocks before you go to bed! There’s nothing worse than waking up thinking its 9am when it’s really 10am.
For more tips on how to get a good night’s sleep click here.