The last weekend in March is the time of year to put our clocks forward for summertime and this year it falls on Sunday 29th March 2020.
We’re already beginning to naturally adjust to the lighter mornings and evenings, and then suddenly we’re going to be plunged back into dark mornings again. If you feel a bit out of sorts with losing the hour after the clocks go forward, you are experiencing a lag in your body clock.
How our body clock works
Our circadian rhythm is the daily rhythm by which we live; the sleep and wake cycle related to the 24-hour cycle of night and day. We become sleepy as the dark evening hours approach and wake up as the day begins and everything is governed by the body’s biological clock deep within the brain. However, our body clock is also responsible for the operation of all sorts of bodily functions including heart function, hormone production, maintaining the immune system and cleaning up toxins.
The body works on a 24-hour cycle and exposure to daylight resets the brain every day, and when we shorten this cycle to 23 hours, it affects us in a similar way to jet lag; our internal body clock tells us it’s one time and the outside environment tells us it’s another. Losing this hour can be more difficult for us to adjust to than gaining an hour in the autumn.
However, sleep-deprived people getting by on 6 hours sleep or less, shifting their already frazzled body clock by another lost hour, can be causing problems for themselves. Even though the evenings will become lighter, sunrise will be an hour later, which is equivalent to sunrise approximately four weeks earlier, which means you will be getting up in the dark again, confusing your internal body clock.
Apparently, the number of road traffic accidents increases by 10% a couple of days after the clocks go forward, and also there is a significant increase in the number of heart attacks around that time.
To overcome the ‘spring forward jet lag’, here are a few tips to help you:
- Try going to bed 10 minutes earlier each night in the week running up to the time change so that your internal body clock can slowly adjust to the one hour difference.
- Alternatively, one to two nights before the clocks go forward go to bed an hour earlier, which will be your new bedtime.
- Change all your clocks to the new time before you go to bed so that if you do wake up, you know exactly what time it is.
- Try to get up at your new weekday time on the Sunday morning after the clocks go forward so that it isn’t so much of a shock on Monday morning. If you’re feeling tired have a quick nap of no longer than 30 minutes between 1 pm and 3 pm.
- As the evenings start to get lighter, make sure you keep your bedroom dark, as it will be more difficult to get to sleep in a lighter room.
And remember, it’s not unusual to feel a bit out of sorts for a few days after the clocks go forward. Just take this advice and you’ll make it a bit easier.
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