British Summer Time officially ends at 2am this Sunday 28th October. At this point our clocks go back by one hour to 1am, and we gain an hours of sleep. For those without young children it potentially allows an extra hour in bed. However, this is not necessarily the best choice to make.
The science of sleep has now proven that we get a better quality of sleep when we go to bed and wake up at the same time seven days a week. Regular sleep also helps our body clock, or circadian rhythm keep all of our rest of our systems on track too leading to better health, body and mind, all round.
Catching up on sleep at weekends however, creates a condition called social jet lag, as it mimics the effect of long distance travel across different time zones. This leaves the mind groggy and can often throw the digestive system off track too.
Easing out of Summertime
When it comes to managing the clocks change therefore, it is far better to stagger the change rather than try to make an hour’s adjustment in one night.
For those with young children and babies I recommend making a 10 minute adjustment over six days, or fifteen minutes over four days. Here bed time, wake time and meals are all altered together by 10 minutes to gently bring the family into the new time zone.
For adults and couples who are working it is often more convenient to make the adjustment of two (1/2 hour changes).
Here is how the changes would pan out over a weekend, lining up your body clock to ease into the Sunday in cinque with the new time zone.
Weekend Clocks change schedule for adults
The ideal clock adjustment schedule would be
This Friday night go to bed ½ hour later
On Saturday morning you should now naturally wake up ½ hour later. You then aim to eat all meals one hour later than the current ( summer) time suggests. Changing mealtimes helps your body clock to start to adjust through the day. This the sets you up to start to feel tired one hour later on Saturday evening than your normal time bedtime, helping you to get naturally fall to sleep one hour later on Saturday night.
On Sunday wake up 1 hour later
You will be now in sync for the whole of Sunday, your kids will wake up when you want to and you are refreshed for work on Monday.
If you can’t manage to get to bed later on Friday night allow yourself to get up ½ hour later
on Saturday by setting your alarm later. Then adjust the meal times by one hour as planned.
Additional Sleep hygiene tweaks for the weekend
Apart from moving your bed time / wake time in steps and adjusting mealtimes , there are a
few other easy wins to help your body clock adjust.
The first is to exercise in the morning over the weekend (preferably outside to get sunlight). This is proven to help people get to sleep more easily in the evening.
Another would be to include things which help you to relax in the evening. Perhaps 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, dimming the lights and reading a book, rather than watching TV, are tried and tested relaxation methods to help your mind wind down for bedtime, creating the desire for sleep.
I hope these tips allow you to wake up this coming Monday refreshed and ready for work.