Unlike the March Daylight Saving Time (DST) when we ‘spring forward’ an hour, losing an hour’s sleep, October sees us ‘fall back’ an hour. This means we gain an extra hour’s sleep. This may sound trivial given that the clock change also signals the start of chilly evenings and frosty starts. But when you’re snuggled up under a warm duvet and soft cotton sheets in a blissful state, suddenly that extra hour takes on a cosy new meaning. Here sleep expert Dr Kat Lederle tells us why else why we should look forward to the clock change this weekend.
Embracing the clock change
Better sleep: Natural day light regulates our body clock, and darkness signals to our brain that it’s time for sleep. Earlier dark evenings give our body more time to release melatonin, the sleep hormone, which it makes when it’s exposed to darkness. If you normally go to bed around 10-11pm, the clock change will give your body more time to prepare for sleep as opposed to the lighter evenings in British Summer Time. Having longer to prepare for sleep can also help you sleep more soundly and reap the rewards of a better night’s sleep
Feel happier: Gaining an extra hour’s sleep can have a positive impact on our mood and make us better able to deal with the emotional and social demands of the next day. Students and workers who enjoy better sleep also report higher levels of engagement. This is in contrast to the spring clock change where the loss of an hour’s sleep results in more ‘cyberloafing’ immediately after the switch.
More energy: When the clocks go back it’s lighter in the morning, making it the ideal time to get out for a much-needed energy boost. Exposure to light on a morning walk also helps to reset the circadian rhythms – your body clock, the 24-hour cycle that regulates all your biological and physiological processes. A morning walk, jog, run or even a spot of outdoor yoga also helps to boost your mood and reduce stress.
More alert: Waking to natural light signals to your brain that it’s morning and the day has started. This makes it easier to get up, rather than feel you’re reluctantly dragging your body out of bed. If you have blackout curtains or blinds, try leaving them slightly ajar or raised so some light peeks in. If you need to wake up really early before sunrise, a sunrise alarm clock might help, though natural daylight is preferable.
Dr Kat Lederle is a sleep specialist and chronobiologist, and author of Sleep Sense. Kat is also a member of the Tielle Sleep Panel a group of inspiring people from the fields of wellbeing, design and lifestyle who are working together to change sleep habits and revolutionise your waking world.