Five top tips to help you sleep when the clocks go back

October 25th, 2019

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It’s that time of year again - as we all turn the clocks back one hour and welcome the shorter, darker days of winter, it means a sudden shift in daylight exposure, something which is essential for our internal body clock to maintain a 24-hour rhythm track.

Our sleep expert Holly Housby is here to help, with five top tips for maintaining quality sleep in the days following the clock change.

1. Stick to your usual sleep schedule

It’s important to try keep to your sleeping pattern, so that you go to bed and wake up at the same times as usual. Appreciate that extra hour in bed by using it as an opportunity to sleep for longer or just relax. It may take a couple of days for your body to adjust to this new schedule but routine is the key when it comes to your body clock.

2. Take a bath

Trying to sleep an hour earlier than usual can be difficult, especially as we may not feel tired enough yet. One way to combat this is to take a bath. Not just relaxing, having a bath before bed can actually help to promote sleep and induce tiredness. Your temperature naturally dips at night as your body prepares for rest, beginning about two hours before sleep. When you soak in a hot bath, your temperature rises by a degree or two, and the rapid cool-down immediately after the bath imitates this natural decrease of your body temperature, which can help you to fall asleep faster.

3. Banish technology

Electronic devices cause real issues for our sleep patterns; from the disruptive notifications throughout the night to the blue light emitted by screens having an impact on our melatonin levels, the sleep-inducing hormone. Using technology in the run up to bed can prevent us from feeling tired - definitely not what we need when we’re also trying to sleep an hour earlier than normal!

To combat this, it’s worth creating a tech-free zone for 30 minutes before bed, to prevent technology having a negative impact on your sleep and ensure a better night’s rest

4. Avoid a nightcap before bed

One quarter (25%) of us admit to having alcohol within three hours of going to bed, and while a nice glass of wine might be an enjoyable way to de-stress at the end of a long and hectic day, alcohol can have a negative impact on our rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which is often considered the most restorative stage of sleep.

While you may fall asleep faster after a couple of drinks, you’ll spend less time in your REM phase of sleep - meaning you’re more likely to wake up feeling unrested and drowsy. If you still want to enjoy a nightcap in the evening, make sure you only have one, and have it as early in the evening as possible to minimise the effects.

5. Avoid napping

The clock change can leave many of us struggling to sleep, and feeling tired for the following days. However, it’s important that those of us struggling to sleep avoid taking naps throughout the day.

It may sound strange, but people who struggle to get a good night’s rest are the ones who need to avoid naps the most. If you’re regularly having problems sleeping, having an afternoon siesta can actually make your sleeping problems worse, as it is likely to disrupt your natural waking and sleeping patterns, and make adjusting to the new daylight hours even harder. Unfortunately, the more you feel like you need to nap, the more you need to avoid it.

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