Home Health & Wellness Sleep Expert Shares 7 Tips to Effortlessly Adjust to the Time Change

Sleep Expert Shares 7 Tips to Effortlessly Adjust to the Time Change

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As we approach the time change on 31st of March, marking the transition from winter to spring, the impact on our sleep patterns becomes increasingly evident. This period, characterised by the shift to daylight saving time in many regions, brings about longer daylight hours and changing temperatures, influencing our circadian rhythms and sleep quality. The adjustment of clocks forward not only heralds the arrival of spring but also serves as a reminder of the significant effects these changes can have on our sleep health. 

In light of this, Oak Tree Mobility, along with sleep expert Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, put together a comprehensive guide aimed at helping Brits navigate the sleep challenges posed by the time change on 31st March.

1. Progressive schedule adjustment

Begin altering your sleep and wake times in 15-minute increments about three days before the time change. This slow adjustment helps ease your body into the new schedule, reducing the shock to your circadian rhythm. Pair this gradual shift with similarly timed changes in other daily routines, such as eating meals and exercising, to help your internal clock adjust more seamlessly.

2. Rethink meal timing

Align your eating schedule with your new sleep schedule by shifting meal times earlier in the lead-up to the time change. Eating your dinner slightly earlier can signal to your body that nighttime is approaching, aiding in the adjustment process. Opt for light, easily digestible dinners to avoid any digestive discomfort that could disrupt your sleep.

3. Mindful Consumption

Limit caffeine and alcohol consumption more strictly than usual in the week leading up to the time shift. Caffeine can linger in your body for up to 8 hours, so consider cutting off caffeine by early afternoon. Similarly, while alcohol might feel like it helps you relax, it can severely impact the quality of your REM sleep, making the adjustment period more challenging.

4. Sunlight Exposure

Make a concerted effort to expose yourself to natural sunlight as soon as possible after waking up, especially in the morning after the time change. Sunlight is a powerful signal for your brain to halt the production of melatonin, helping reset your internal clock. Even a short walk or a few minutes from a sunny window can make a significant difference.

5. Evening wind-down ritual

Develop a relaxing bedtime routine to signal to your body that it’s time to wind down. This might include activities such as reading a book, taking a warm bath, practising meditation, or gentle stretching. The key is consistency and engaging in activities that promote relaxation, preparing your body and mind for rest.

6. Morning physical activity

Incorporate physical exercise into your morning routine to help advance your body’s internal clock and improve sleep quality. Morning exercise can energise you for the day ahead and enhance nighttime sleep quality. However, ensure it’s not too close to your new bedtime, as evening exercise can increase alertness and make it harder to fall asleep.

7. Embrace power naps with caution

If you’re feeling overwhelmingly tired during the day, a short power nap of 20-30 minutes early in the afternoon can help improve alertness without significantly impacting your nighttime sleep. However, avoid longer naps or napping too late in the day, as this can make it more challenging to adjust to the new time.

The shift from winter to spring can disrupt our sleep patterns, but by understanding these changes and taking proactive steps, it’s possible to minimise their impact. Adapting our routines and environment to the season can help maintain good sleep health, ensuring we remain rested and energised as we welcome the warmer months.

Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, a sleep expert said: “Transitioning from winter to spring can subtly yet significantly disrupt our sleep patterns. As the days grow longer and the nights shorter, our internal biological clocks face a challenge in adapting to the change in natural light exposure.

“This shift can delay our body’s release of melatonin, the hormone that signals our brain it’s time to sleep, leading to difficulties in falling asleep or staying asleep. To help counteract these effects, I recommend creating a sleep-friendly environment by maintaining a consistent bedtime, using blackout curtains to mimic a darker environment, and engaging in a relaxing pre-bedtime routine to signal to your body that it’s time to wind down.”

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