How British Summer Time Affects Sleep
Spring is definitely on the way. The so-called ‘Beast from the East’ might still be fresh in our minds, but we can take comfort from knowing that warmer days are on the horizon.
Clocks ‘spring’ forward by an hour on the last Sunday in March, marking the start of British Summer Time. BST was first introduced more than 100 years ago to make better use of the long hours of sunlight during the summer months.
First mooted by Benjamin Franklin in 1784, it was put forward to Parliament by London builder, William Willet, the great, great grandfather of Coldplay’s Chris Martin, and came into force in 1916. Perhaps William Willet was the inspiration for Coldplay’s Grammy Award-winning song, ‘Clocks’?
The move to British Summer Time means longer, brighter days; that’s the good news. But it also means that we get an hour less in bed - and this can temporarily disrupt your sleeping pattern, often leaving you feeling slightly jet lagged for a few days.
Our resident sleep expert, Cristabel Majandie, explains that the change can leave our biological clocks temporarily out of sync.
“Moving the clocks forward can have an impact on the quality of your sleep, leaving some people feeling tired during the day,” she said.
“The impact of the clock change varies from person to person, with some people taking up to three days for the brain and body to adjust and others feeling unaffected.”
Here are some top tips to help you sleep well during British Summer Time:
Re-set your own body clock: during the week leading up to clocks going forward, gradually change your sleeping pattern to avoid having to do it in one go. Try going to sleep and waking up 15 minutes earlier each day; when the change comes, your body will already used to the new clock.
Avoid a lie in: having a lie-in the morning after the clocks change will not help you in the long run. Even if it feels rather early at the time, getting up at a reasonable time will make the rest of your week easier.
Try and stay cool: if the room is too hot, you’re far more likely to experience restless nights. Make sure you’re comfortable, with appropriate bed covers for the time of year. Natural fibres, such as cotton or feathers, absorb more sweat and will help your body regulate its temperature better than synthetic fibres.
Avoid daylight: light is a major controlling factor on the body clock. Whilst daylight can help kickstart your waking process, it also inhibits sleep. It’s best to use thick blinds or curtains if sunlight disturbs your early morning sleep in the summer months.
Silence the noise: with more people spending longer outside, enjoying the sun and warmer evenings, noise levels can rise - particularly in urban areas - which can effect your sleep. Consider earplugs, although try and avoid dependancy on these.
REMEMBER: Set your clocks an hour ahead before you go to sleep on Saturday night. Most smartphones and tablets will change themselves.
The clocks move forward at 01:00 on Sunday, 25 March.