For those with sleep issues, daylight saving time can cause disruption to sleep patterns, sleep schedule and general tiredness as a result of the clocks springing forwards.
While we all have to deal with a lost hour of sleep once the clocks turn from 2am to 3am on the last Sunday of March, for those with issues like night time waking or insomnia, this time of the year can undo months of hard work and sleep hygiene building.
Our sleep clinic in Newcastle has put together some tips on how to deal with the clocks moving forwards.
Utilise Light Therapy
When the clocks move forward, the principal time cue of light and the time that the sun rises and sets changes, which is also unfortunately and environmental trigger for sleep too.
Light suppresses the secretion of the sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin, which means that the increased daylight in the mornings may make you wake earlier, while the lighter evenings may make it harder to drift off.
Our sleep clinic in Newcastle recommends avoiding harsh bright lights before bed, including light from TV, laptops and phone screens for at least 2 hours before you want to drift off. Ideally, you should also use blackout blinds or curtains to help set a dark environment when going to bed, helping the brain and body wind down for sleep.
Maintain a Good Sleep Schedule
A good night’s sleep relies on good sleep hygiene and this includes going to bed and waking up at the same time every day.
While around daylight saving time, it might be tempting to go to bed earlier or wake later to ‘catch up’ with what time it would have been before the clocks changed. This can actually cause more problems when the nights continue to get lighter and we spend more time in bed awake.
Instead, keep to your routine with the new time frames and your body will naturally adjust to the new timescale and environmental cues after a few days.
Avoid Eating Late or Drinking Alcohol & Caffeine
As the nights get lighter it can be tempting to eat later, and drink alcohol until later. Because it still “feels like daytime” it might also be more tempting to drink more caffeine whether in coffee, coca-cola or other drinks.
Eating late causes our body to continue digesting food and can also cause sleep problems for those with reflux. Similarly, consuming alcohol or caffeine can impact our sleep through disrupting the quality (alcohol) and through making it harder to fall asleep (caffeine)
We recommend leaving at least 3 hours after eating before bed, and minimising alcohol and caffeine if you want to have a good night’s sleep, particularly if you are prone to needing the toilet, or already have trouble with insomnia.
For More Information
If you need help with your sleep, our sleep clinic in Newcastle offer face-to-face and online appointments and can help you overcome your sleeping problems.
Contact us using the message box below or call us on 07966 645 198 today.
Dr Stuart Sadler
Chartered Clinical Psychologist
Newcastle Psychologist & Counselling