The clocks go forward this weekend and whilst most of us rejoice in the longer days and lighter evenings, the transition with its loss of sleep is not so easy for some.
In this day and age it is well documented that as a nation we are not getting enough sleep. Busy jobs, home lives and trying to ‘do it all’ have taken their toll on all of us and getting ‘a good 8 hours’ is a rarity. The term for recommended sleep practices and environments is called sleep hygiene. Changing your usual habits to those recommended can ensure restful sleep night after night. But what about when the clocks change?
An hour doesn’t sound like much sleep to lose, but it can be tricky for our bodies to adjust to the change. Some people get away with it and don’t suffer any effects to speak of. But for others, losing a whole hour of precious shut-eye at the weekend can impact them for the rest of the week.
If you have small children prepare yourself for some for fitful nights as the adjustment for them can actually take weeks. But it’s not just the kids that can be affected. Studies have shown an increase in heart attacks, traffic accidents and workplace injuries in the days following the shift. It’s important to reduce the impact as much as possible.
Tips on coping with the changing clocks
The sleep council offers advice on this adjustment so we can transition into a (hopefully) fabulous summer with little fall-out:
- In the days approaching the change of clocks, move your bedtime gradually, maybe by ten minutes a night. This will mean you have already started the adjustment so there will be no shock to the system. Your body will thank you for it.
- Indulge in a lay-in on the Sunday morning. Don’t overdo it as you’ll feel groggy but don’t feel bad if you get up a bit later than usual.
- Keep the kids up a bit longer. Even if they are fit to drop it will be worth it in the morning when they are still snoozing and not waking you up at some unearthly hour.
Enjoy quality sleep every night
According to the council, some of the same rules apply to any other night. It’s worth reminding ourselves of these so we don’t slip into bad habits:
- Leave the gadgets downstairs. Most people know by now that looking at the blue backlit screens of laptops, tablets or phones will trigger your brain to fire back up again. Similarly watching TV in bed will keep you awake for longer.
- Choose the right mattress for you. Comfort is key and that’s a personal thing. Make sure you have the right mattress; hard, soft or medium – whatever works for you. If yours is more than 7 years old it’s time to go shopping for a new one.
- The same can be said for your bed. If the bed frame or divan is unstable or creaky it could be affecting the quality of your sleep and the time you spend in the land of nod.
- Create the perfect environment for sleeping. Your bedroom should be dark, quiet and a comfortable temperature.
- Stop drinking caffeine at least 2 hours before bedtime.
The clocks change at 1am on Sunday 26th March.