On Sunday 26th March 2023, the clocks will jump forward by one hour as we welcome spring and the glorious extra hour of sunlight that the season brings. But this change can play havoc on our sleep cycle as we adapt to 60 minutes being taken from our overnight snooze.
Dr Hana Patel, resident sleep expert at Time4Sleep, discusses how the clocks springing forwards affects our sleep: “When the clocks change, our circadian rhythm – the internal body clock that helps regulate our hormones and temperature – has to re-calibrate, and it can take a few days for our body to adjust to our new sleep cycle.”
Stressed about your first Sunday sleep in spring? Fear not, Dr Patel explains exactly what happens to our bodies when the clocks change and shares four expert tips to help us get our sleep schedule back on track.
What happens to your body when the clocks go forward?
Like clockwork, every year we gain an extra hour’s sunlight on the last Sunday in March, but the change still catches many out. Dr Patel explains what happens to our bodies when we lack sleep:
“Our bodies can get more stressed with less sleep, this in turn can increase hunger, make us more irritable and less able to concentrate. Evidence has even shown that when the clocks go forward, there’s an increase in the number of heart attacks and strokes1.”
(A little) preparation is key
Dr Patel reveals why preparing the day before the clocks change can ease the transition: “If you’re worried about your Monday start, make the move early and change your clocks on Saturday morning instead of Sunday. This gives your sleep cycle the full weekend to adapt.”
Keep waking times the same for children
While adults are more used to their sleep schedules changing, it can be a little harder on children, as Dr Patel explains: “Children thrive on routine and the clocks changing can interrupt their natural sleep schedule.
“I would recommend focusing on being consistent with waking times rather than when they go to bed, and unless they are already napping, try to avoid them during the day. Their natural sleep cycle should kick in again after a day or two.”
Let the sunshine in
Is a little morning light the cure to our sleep cycle woes? Dr Patel says: “Sunlight is important when it comes to regulating our sleep cycle, as it helps to reset our circadian clock by telling your body to stop producing the sleep hormone melatonin.
“For people who find it difficult to wake up in the mornings, allowing sunlight into your bedroom will help you wake naturally, making you feel more alert.”
Slack off stimulation
It’s becoming an age-old sleep question: To scroll or not scroll at bedtime? In order to get your sleep cycle back on track, Dr Patel suggests a digital detox: “I’d recommend limiting television, tablets and phones for at least a few hours before bedtime, as the blue light can stimulate you and make it harder to fall asleep.
“Cutting out stimulants helps improve sleep around the clocks changing, and aids in the resetting process, allowing us to adapt to this change with ease.”
Looking for more information on your sleep cycle? Visit Time4Sleep for more sleep tips from Dr Patel.