When the clocks go back: make the most of the extra hour

Peaceful Woman Asleep In Bed As Day Break Through Curtains

The clocks go back on 31 October - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

As the nights are drawing in, we’re rapidly approaching that time of year when the clocks go back an hour as we leave British Summer Time (BST), but many people struggle to deal with these twice-yearly changes to the time.

At 2am on Sunday 31st October we will gain an hour and embrace Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) over the winter months. Slumber expert Jan Jenner from specialist sleep consultancy Hunrosa says the change is something we should make plans for to lessen its impact.

“We maybe wish we could hibernate as the clock change will in effect make us to go to bed later and get up later, to fit with the best of the daylight over winter," says Cornwall-based Jan. "It’s advisable to make the change gradually, especially if you feel you are more alert in the mornings and feel very tired in the evening.

Expert advice on sleep

Sleep expert Jan Jenner - Credit: hunrosa.co.uk

“To make this gradual adjustment, you can revise your wake time and sleep time three days in advance of the clock changing by going to bed 15 minutes later and get up 15 minutes later each day. This will ensure that on the fourth day you are at the correct time and ready for the change. It really helps to spend time in daytime light for at least 30 minutes after you wake, this will help adjust your body clock.”

Whilst the clock change at the end of the month can be easier for some it’s useful to bear in mind some of the wider health implications. Jan adds that there is research that “suggests that there is more pressure on health services when we shift to British summertime in the spring”. Then in autumn when we gain an hour it results in less pressure which can impact immunity, physical and mental health for the better.

“It’s interesting that clocks going back is actually helpful for many teenagers, as currently a 7 am wake up can feel like a 5am wake up. Switching to GMT from BST can lessen this impact. Of the two clock changes annually, it seems an easier change to make for many people, especially if they tend to be night owls; so that they feel like they function better later in the day and like a lie in.”

closeup of a round stone with a clock on the sand of a beach

An extra our in bed - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Sleep deprivation comprises immunity - after just five days of short sleep your immunity reduces by 50%. Sleep deprivation can make health conditions worse and even mimic certain disabilities.

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In the UK sleep problems were already at epidemic levels prior to Covid-19, with more than 30% of the population reported to suffer with sleep issues, 20% of road deaths attributed to tiredness and overall sleep deprivation costing the economy an estimated £40bn annually.

For more information visit www.hunrosa.co.uk.