It’s almost that time of year again when the days get shorter and the nights get longer.
Our body clock is designed to gently adjust in response to gradual changes in daylight by roughly two minutes a day.
However, it will be asked to jump by a full hour in one go on tonight (Saturday into Sunday) when the clocks go back, signalling the end of British Summer Time.
Many of us will choose to spend the extra hour in bed but it is not necessarily the best choice to make, says sleep expert, Dave Gibson, founder of thesleepsite.co.uk
“Now known as social jet lag, as it mimics a jump in time zone similar to long haul flights across different time zones, a forced 60-minute leap in one night can impact greatly and interfere significantly with our body’s systems including mental alertness and digestion.
“It is far better to stagger the change rather than try to make an hour’s adjustment in one night. Making the adjustment over two days will ensure a smoother transition and will fit in better with busy work and social schedules.”
Shift your schedule in steps
Spread the shift into ½ hours over two days. The ideal clock adjustment schedule is:
- Friday night – go to bed ½ hour later
- Saturday morning – wake up ½ hour later and eat all meals one hour later during the day
- Saturday night – go to bed one hour later
- Sunday morning – wake up one hour later, you are now in synch for the whole of Sunday
Set your meal times to your new schedule
“Meal times are naturally part of our daily schedule. Moving all of your meals later will help set your body clock into the new time zone. Exercise and relaxation are key components of sleep hygiene, always try to exercise every day and in the evening get your body to relax by having a bath with lavender and do some stretching or Yoga.
“Finally, in order to help your brain wind down, dim the lights and read a book, rather than watch TV. These are tried and tested relaxation methods to help your mind wind down for bedtime, creating the desire for sleep.”
“For those with young children and babies I recommend making a 10-minute adjustment over six days. Here, bedtime, wake time, and meals are all altered together by 10 minutes to gently bring the family into the new time zone.”