The clocks go back this Sunday. Great news I can hear you say, in that we get an extra hour in bed. This might be fantastic news on Monday morning when you effectively get a lovely hour lie in, but the tricky bit starts that evening when you may not feel sleepy at your usual bedtime. By the middle of the week our natural rhythms are likely to be a little out of synch and getting up on time becomes harder to do so. It’s a bit like giving ourselves a mini dose of jet lag…..without the sunny holiday!
Here are some tips on how to handle the time change to help improve your sleep:-
Don’t leave it until Sunday – The gentler you can ease yourself in to the time shift, the easier it will be for your natural sleep rhythms to adapt. It’s much easier to make the change over a few days rather than leaving it all down to Sunday night. From Friday, start your nightly wind down routine 20mins earlier (and then another 20mins earlier again on Saturday) so you stagger the effect.
Prep for the day ahead – Worry is a real sleep stopper. There’s nothing worse than lying in bed unable to sleep and getting more and more stressed about all the things you have to do the next day. Doing some little things the night before that help you have a speedy start in the morning can help you buy a bit of time and take a weight of your mind. So spend ten minutes in the evening making the pack lunches and getting outfit ready for the next day so you can turn in for the night knowing those bits are done and waiting for you when you wake.
Get light smart – Light regulates sleepiness levels. Clocks going back mean lighter mornings (for a while anyway). Good news as waking up should be easier…..so throw open those curtains on waking!
The flip side is darker afternoons and evenings of course. That means through the winter we’re reliant on artificial light. The blue light that screens and bulbs emit help to keep us awake through the afternoon as light levels fall, but they also confuse the brain into thinking it’s perpetually daytime. The trick is knowing when to switch them off……lower the wattage at night to help you get sleepy and stay away from backlit screens (computers, phones and TVs for example) for at least an hour before you want to go to sleep.
And remember you can take a short nap if necessary! If you find yourself grappling with significant daytime sleepiness in the days after switching to daylight saving time, a short nap may be beneficial. Keeping a nap under 30 minutes can boost your alertness while reducing grogginess after waking up.