What a difference an hour makes. Many of us will be looking forward to an extra hour in bed when the clocks go back on October 31st at 2am. This is often referred to as daylight savings time, British Summer Time (BST), to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). This change proves helpful during the winter months, meaning our mornings will not be so dark for working or commuting. For others who struggle to fall asleep, this change may affect their sleep schedule. Either way, we have to make changes in our own lives to accommodate this change.
Our guide to adjusting yourself to this change will ensure your sleep will feel as refreshing as ever. It is important to adjust your self care with our provided tips, and ensure the changing of the clocks work to your benefit.
Time to Change Your Clocks
Don’t get lost in time! It is important to ensure any device where you read the time from is corrected to ensure it is the right time after the clocks go back. If not, you may find yourself thinking you’re running late for your appointments, or end up double-booking yourself.
Although electronic devices like your phone or tablet often automatically adjust to the new time shift, more manual devices may not. Alarm clocks often need to be changed to the correct time by hand, especially if it’s an analogue clock. If your car shows the time, this can easily be adjusted to avoid confusion.
Food plays a large part in how our bodies synchronise from day to night. Eating at your regular meal times will help your body to adjust to the new time. Eating too closely to bedtime, or out of our regular cycle can cause us to stay up for longer. There are, however, foods that can help induce sleep.
Foods containing chocolate, nuts or seeds, or fish, for example, contain high levels of melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone typically released at night, helping to create your regular sleep-wake cycle. Eating such foods at the right time will ensure you don’t stay up too late, as well as being good for the body in healthy amounts.
Watch Your Caffeine Intake
Although that extra hour in bed may disrupt our cycle to begin with, it is important to go easy on the coffee. Drinking your regular amount after the change will most likely keep you up later at night, meaning you will lose precious sleep. After that, you will wake up feeling more tired the next day.
Having a fraction of your usual coffee, or cutting it out after it gets dark, will prevent you feeling groggy when the time shifts. Remember, you have an extra hour in bed to give you the energy you need!
Don’t Stay Up Too Late
That extra hour asleep may make us feel happier and more energised during the day. However, don’t get too carried away. You may feel like that extra energy means you can stay up longer, but it has long-term consequences on your sleep cycle. The hormones that regulate your sleep pattern need to have regular waking hours and sleeping hours to ensure you can fall asleep when is necessary for you.
This means that throwing off your schedule with a few extra hours will likely have a negative impact for you in the long term. Falling asleep at irregular times, and not being able to fall sleep when you need to, will make you feel more tired overall. Irregular sleeping patterns will have an affect on your hormonal balance and overall mood.
Avoid Too Much Blue Light
Blue light often refers to the artificial light we get from electronic screens. Many of our devices have LED technology, which contains high amounts of blue light. These include phones, laptops, tablets, and televisions. While blue light is everywhere, including the sun, our devices have highly concentrated amounts of light that affect our ability to sleep. Blue light should be used with caution as you adjust to the extra hour.
Exposure to excess blue light can cause visual damage. Looking at our devices up close puts us at greater risk. This can include eye strain, headaches, and irritability. This will affect overall mood and cause pain when trying to sleep at night. For sleeping, blue lights are associated with our brains as the bright, cool lights of the daytime. Warmer, more red tones are mentally associated with the night time. This can even be seen in the sky – think about the sun in the blue sky and the sunset.
With excess exposure to blue light, our melatonin cycle is affected. If we spend too much time looking at screens, the hormone is not released when it should be. This will affect our ability to fall asleep and keep a regular pattern. It is best to keep our screen time limited at night to ensure a good night’s rest. Most phones have a “do not disturb” feature to prevent the screens from turning on at night. Try to avoid these lights a few hours before your desired sleep time, and try “switched off” activities such as reading.
Keep To Your Pre-Clocks Changing Routine
Overall, the best advice to adapt to the clocks going forward is to carry on as normal. Acting in a radically different manner will cause your body to shift away from its regular cycle, making sleep more difficult. If you are prone to disturbed sleep, such as insomnia, keeping regular is essential to get a healthy amount of sleep.
Taking note of your regular habits will help you keep up your daily cycle. Actions that induce hormonal or energy changes are most important to take note of. These include what times you eat, drink caffeine, use electronic devices, and what time you get yourself into bed.
After the clocks change, it is important to keep on track. if you typically eat dinner at 5pm, for example, keep your dinner time to the new 5pm. If you’re usually in bed by 10pm, don’t disrupt this association. It is essential to see the clock as your friend in keeping a regular cycle. The time will help you learn to wind down by mentally associating rest times with relaxation. You should see this extra hour as one-off gift of extra sleep – it should not cause long-term disruption.