Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Daylight Savings Time: 5 things you can do to prepare for it

Sunday 30th March sees the start of British summertime and the season’s daylight savings. While we gain an hour of sunlight by springing forward in time, we also lose an hour’s sleep. Setting the clocks forward and losing an hour’s sleep can disrupt the body’s natural patterns. For those already lacking in sufficient sleep, this time change can take its toll. Why not make the summertime transition a little less tiring by following our top five tips to help you prepare?

1. Plan ahead

The human body is controlled by its biological clock and circadian rhythms. These rhythms respond to darkness and light in our environment and govern physical, mental and behavioural changes. Time adjustments can consequently upset this natural balance. Rather than shortening the day, try to adjust to the time difference by making small changes to your sleep schedule prior to the event.

For the four days leading up to the clocks going forward, why not consider going to bed fifteen minutes earlier each night than your usual bedtime? This will allow your body to adjust gradually to the hour’s difference and your typical bedtime will then coincide with the time change.

2. Be productive

If you can’t adjust gradually to the transition, don’t compensate for the lost hour with extra sleep. Sleeping in will only serve to make you more sluggish and further disrupt your body clock. Try to be active on Sunday. Expose yourself to as much sunlight as possible to boost your energy levels and remain alert despite the lack of sleep.

Getting our fresh air quota!

3. Adjust your clock in advance

Why not ease your way into daylight saving by adjusting your clock on Saturday? Sunday night syndrome can be stressful enough without the added inconvenience of an hour’s less sleep. If your schedule allows, shifting mealtimes and activities forward may make the transition less tiring.

4. Get a good night’s sleep

A regular routine for bedtime is of paramount importance throughout the year and particularly so, when changes in the clock occur. Give yourself the best chance of getting a good night’s sleep by establishing a relaxing bedtime routine. The hormone, Melatonin, is fundamental to natural sleep patterns and its production is dependant on exposure to light. Ideally, the brain should release more Melatonin at night to produce a sensation of sleepiness and less during daylight hours when we need to be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

Modern life can often interfere with nature’s intention and artificial light from bright computer or television screens can exacerbate this disruption. It’s important, therefore, to get as much exposure to natural light as possible during the day and limited exposure to artificial light at night.

Wind down at the end of the day with a warm bath to help prepare the body for sleep. An inviting and comfortable bedroom environment with luxury duvet covers for your bed will help to release the day’s stresses and strains.

Similarly, what you put into your system can also be of immeasurable benefit to your sleep. Alcohol, caffeine and fatty foods will stimulate your digestive system and a troubled tummy will only make your sleep suffer.

5. Get some exercise

Some research has found that regular exercise can lengthen and deepen sleep. While strenuous workouts close to bedtime may hinder your ability to fall asleep, getting some exercise during the day can encourage a good night’s sleep and limit the effects of your time loss.

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