Fall back - will the clocks changing mess up my sleep?
We’re getting to that time of year where to paraphrase Bob Dylan “The clocks they are a-changing” and for many of us, it can cause a bit of anxiety about our sleep, both for ourselves, and (if we have them) our children.
Which is why we asked our James, AKA The Sleep Geek, for his advice…
In Autumn the clocks change, moving us onto Daylight Savings Time (DST). Shifting the external time away from the timing of our internal body clock can create a sense of jetlag. I’m not going to disappear down the rabbit hole of DST conspiracy theories (which include Big Golf and Farmers); but say that it’s good news that we’re heading back to Standard Time.
The question I get asked at this time of year is how to deal with the clocks changing, and my answer is...
try not to worry too much about it.
The positive for many of us is that we get a bit of daylight back at the start of the day, so the commute into work, or the school run starts in daylight for at least a couple of weeks after the clocks change.
Many experts give advice that we should change the time we go to sleep as we approach the clocks going back. That often means going to sleep 15 mins earlier every night the week before. This advice can be described as absolute guff, and I shall explain why…
Forcing ourselves to sleep?
Firstly, any avid fans of my work will know one of the fundamentals I talk about is that nobody can force themselves to go to sleep at a certain time. If you followed this approach, for you, or your kids, then it’s highly likely to cause stress and anxiety. The knock-on effect being that you’re more likely to fall asleep later due to the pressure. Don’t listen to the experts who peddle this poor advice.
If you wanted to shift yours, or your child’s bedtime then you would be better doing it at wake up time, as we can force ourselves to wake up earlier. However this isn't necessary. “Why James?” you may ask. I am going to tell you why.
Most of us vary our wake up times by at least an hour in the week and wake up time being an hour earlier as the clocks change is not detrimental to our sleep, or our wellbeing. At the most, it may take a couple of mornings to adjust.
I do have one suggestion on how the clocks changing may help with our kids' sleep. If you are wanting to shift your kids' bedtime as the clocks change, because in that first day or two, as they return to school after half term, they will naturally feel sleepier earlier and you can start getting them to bed earlier. Good news huh?
There you have it, the clocks are changing, enjoy the fact the mornings will be lighter for a bit, you can take the chance to adjust your kids bedtime and not worry about the clocks changing, your body can easily deal with it.