It happens every year and every year it takes us all a few days, or in some cases longer, to readjust our routines and bodies to the clocks going back. For some it’s harder than others and although we all love an extra hour in bed, it can really throw our minds and bodies off.
Why do the clocks go change in the first place?
In the simplest of terms, putting the clocks forward in summertime was created to give us more time in the daylight and sunshine over the summer months (known as British Summer Time). So, when the clocks go back in October, we are essentially returning to our ‘normal’ time, which we used to follow all year round (otherwise known as Greenwich mean Time) before British Summer Time was introduced in 1916, and we get an extra hour in bed to sleep away the dark winter mornings.
How does turning the clocks back affect the mind and body?
While the appeal of an extra hour in bed sounds great, it’s actually very easy to mess up our sleep routines with this simple change. Even staying up for an extra hour the day the clocks change can play havoc with our circadian rhythm – our 24 hour body clock which helps tell you when you’re tired and you’re alert.
The same will go for your appetite, being used to a routine of the summer months, you may be hungrier earlier, throwing off your eat and sleep routines.
We’ll also start to lack of sunlight after being used to the lighter summer days and evenings, and with the darker evenings you may find yourself feeling more tired or sleepy unintentionally. This is because the lack of sunlight causes a change in the brain, which can lead to the sleep hormone, melatonin, increasing in production, and the mood hormone, serotonin, lowering, resulting in these side effects of feeling tired and potentially low in mood. This is very common and referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
How to cope when the clocks go back
When the clocks go back in October, it will happen at 2am, whereby instead of the time actually turning 2am, clock hands and more likely your digital clock, will revert back to 1am instead.
So how do you cope with the clocks changing to help combat SAD or just feeling out of sorts?
- Be prepared– a few days before the clocks going back, start to gradually change your routine to fall in line with the clocks changing, go to bed slightly later, stay in bed slightly longer. That way when the clocks change, it wont feel like a huge impact to your energy levels or routine.
- Take the extra hour in bed – an extra hour sleep and rest never hurts, so embrace the extra hour knowing that you will feel energised for the full day to come and that you will be able to stay up later as a result, helping your body sync up with the new time.
- Try a natural light alarm clock – without the sunlight to slowly wake up us up in the mornings, a natural light alarm clock can really help to keep you in a sleep routine. Mimicking the sun, you can gradually wake up with what feels like sunlight, even in the darker winter months.
- Keep up your exercise– it is harder during the winter months to keep up with exercise being that it’s darker, however this exercise can really help lift your mood so it’s important to keep it up. If you require daylight for your exercise, try to get out during the day instead of waiting for the evening, or try a workout routine you can do from your living room. The most important thing is to keep moving.
Who knew a simple hour change could impact us so much? But maintaining a healthy lifestyle and your regular routine will help you combat any side effects from the clocks going back.