Clocks Change

The time change: adjusting your body clock

When the clocks go forward on March the 26th, we lose an hour’s sleep. In order to avoid being sleep deprived, it is a good idea to gradually alter your bedtime three to four days before the clocks change so that you get used to falling asleep and waking up earlier. 

Go to bed early

Try going to bed 15 minutes earlier and waking 15 minutes earlier the first night, then 30 minutes earlier than your usual bed and wake time the second night, then 45 minutes earlier the third night, and then on the evening of Saturday the 26th March you can go to bed an hour earlier than your usual bedtime, then set your morning alarm for your usual wake time – your smartphone will automatically adjust this time overnight. This way, you won’t lose any sleep on the 27th when the clocks change. It is also a sensible idea to gradually move your breakfast, lunch, and dinner times a little earlier each day too, since the timing of mealtimes also has an impact on our internal clock.

Get up earlier

Once the clocks change, you will be getting up an hour earlier than you were before. Therefore, get some light exposure as early as possible in the morning to help move your circadian rhythm to this new time. Start your day by opening your curtains wide as soon as you wake up to let in the light, and ideally go for a walk first thing early in the morning to help your body get used to waking up and going to bed earlier. Since morning exercise has been shown to help our circadian rhythm move, you could do some exercise in the morning to help you wake up more easily at this earlier time but try to avoid exercise in the evening.

barista making delicious coffee

Avoid caffeine

Avoid caffeine after about 2pm, since caffeine has a 6-hour half-life (meaning caffeine is still in your system many hours after your last drink). 

Limit technology

Lastly, practice good sleep hygiene by avoiding bright lights in the evening from your phone and laptop, as these can disrupt your natural production of melatonin.

Posted by Dr Lindsay Browning
24th March 2023

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