We will soon be embracing daylight saving time. With the clocks changing we celebrate the arrival of warmer weather and start to make the most of longer, brighter evenings. However, these changes may also disrupt our sleep and normal bedtime routines.
With the upcoming time changes potentially impacting our sleep schedules, we asked our sleep expert, Dr Rebecca Robbins to reveal how we can sync our circadian rhythm to reduce the chance of disrupted sleep. From exposure to daylight to introducing a consistent bedtime routine, Dr Robbins shares her strategies to help us adjust to the seasonal shift.
Believe it or not, the one-hour clock changes is enough to throw us out of sync. This is because our sleep and daytime alertness are governed by our circadian rhythm, our body’s internal 24-hour clock that controls the timings of every organ system and bodily process. Housed in our brain, it is highly sensitive to changes in patterns of light and darkness in our environment.
It takes our internal-biological clock quite a bit of time to change and adjust. You may have experienced grogginess and disorientation when travelling across multiple time zones. This is a result of our circadian rhythm. Unfortunately, the clock changes in the spring is harder, compared to the introduction of daylight saving time in the autumns. We lose an hour, resulting in a 23-hour day.
A schedule allows the body to work with, rather than fight, its natural circadian rhythm. If we stick to a consistent sleep schedule, our body learns when to expect sleep and wakefulness.
Adjust your bedtime. Ease your body into the time changes. Start your sleep routine 15 minutes earlier in the day leading up to the start of daylight saving time in spring. Allowing two days, rather than a single day before the start of the week can ease your circadian rhythm in to the new time.
Light exposure. When you wake up after the time changes this March/April, get outside into the natural light as soon as possible. This will give your brain and internal rhythm input on the new time and its associated pattern of light and darkness.
Cool sleeping environment. At night, when we enter the bedroom, we want to set ourselves up for successful sleep. In a warm environment, we’re much more likely to encounter sleep fragmentation. Waking up a series of times over the course of the night and then struggling to get through the day. Ultimately, we want to walk into a cool sleeping environment.
Sleep proof your bedroom. Are your pillows and bed supportive of your optimal sleep? Ensure that you have a mattress that is supportive of your head, neck, and spinal column at night. The mattress is of course the foundation of our good sleep. An unsupportive mattress, or a mattress that retains heat, will limit the quality of your sleep. By ensuring these elements are refreshed, you are set up for sleep success this spring.
Start a bedtime routine. Studies have shown that spending time on a calming routine before bed helps us fall asleep quicker. Falling asleep does take time. People often think that they can switch from going a million miles an hour to sleep, instantly. However, it doesn’t happen that way. The best way to fall asleep is to build in time to relax before your target bedtime, practice meditation or mindfulness before bed to unplug from your day. Comfort is something we all crave as human beings. It is this comfort that allows us to sleep soundly at night.
Our partnership with Dr Rebecca Robbins explores all areas of our health, from immunity and anti-aging to performance and brain function, which can all be impacted by sleep. Read our article with Dr Robbins on the science behind the sleep myths which may be hindering your healthy bedtime routine.
Find out more about Dr Rebecca Robbins.