Tips for a good night’s sleep when the clocks go back

We pay the price for an extra hour in bed with darker mornings (Picture: Getty)

It’s that time of year when the clocks go back – and from a sleep perspective, this is the good one.

We get an extra hour of sleep. Excellent.

But the price we pay for that extra hour is shorter days and darker mornings. This can leave us feeling sluggish and tired in the mornings, and mess with our overall sleep patterns.

As it’s key hibernation season – all we want to do is stay in with Netflix and comfort food – it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough sleep as the weather turns colder and dingier.

There are some simple steps you can take to ensure you wake up feeling more refreshed and ready to tackle the day.

We spoke to the experts and gathered their top tips for getting a great night’s sleep even when the clocks go back.

Nectar sleep expert Patrick Ross offers five tips on how to ensure restorative sleep going forward into the winter:

Avoid the temptation to have a lie-in

Patrick says sleeping late into the day, or choosing to have a cheeky power-nap, could actually be ruining your sleep patterns.

‘As tempting as it may be to take a long nap around midday, it will be harder for our body to adjust to the time change,’ he says.

‘Long daytime naps have a reputation of disrupting our sleep pattern; making it harder to fall asleep at night.

‘Instead, people who experience sleep deprivation can take short naps during the day or go outside. Sunlight exposure can help suppress the production of melatonin, a sleep hormone, which gets released in the afternoon.’

Try to stick to eight hours of sleep

‘Being consistent with your sleep routine is very important during the transition from British Summer Time, and you should still aim for up to eight hours of kip a night and a consistent bedtime,’ says Patrick. 

‘About a week before the clocks go back, start going to bed just 10-15 minutes before your bedtime, as this will help your body adjust once British Summer Time ends.’

It’s all about being prepared for the change. 

Keep your room dark to combat early morning sun

‘Our body has a 24-hour internal clock – controlled by our circadian rhythms – and is very much influenced by light exposure,’ says Patrick. ‘When you are exposed to light at night or even early morning, your body’s circadian rhythm is thrown off.’

He says this can mess with your body’s internal clock and the essential sleep-promoting hormone melatonin.

‘Blackout blinds help with unnecessary morning light by creating a dark environment,’ he says. ‘This is ideal for restful sleep as it helps promote, protect and customise your sleeping patterns to your individuals need.’

Adapt your sleeping space for cooler sleep during winter

Though it might sound counter-intuitive, Patrick says keeping your room cool during the winter is really important.

‘I would avoid the temptation of sleeping with the heating on, as even slightly elevated room temperatures can cause significant fluctuations in your own body temperature,’ he says. ‘In turn this will disrupt your amount and quality of sleep.

‘You can equally purchase a mattress with an adaptive cooling cover, this will help keep your temperature regulated throughout the night.’

Limit caffeine

‘As much as we all love our coffee, it is best to steer clear after 2pm as it can impact our system for six-seven hours,’ says Patrick.

He explains that this could reduce the quality and time of your sleep, leading to sleep deprivation the following day.

‘It is best to avoid or cut down on caffeine if you want to establish a healthy sleep/wake routine before and after the time change,’ he says.

Certified adult sleep coach, Nicky Blakeman, from Yumi Nutrition, also has some useful advice for hacking your sleep schedule as the clocks go back:

Embrace the darker evenings 

‘In the summer, many of us go to bed later as we’re still out in the garden making the most of the lighter evenings or socialising with friends,’ says Nicki.

‘In contrast, winter is actually a good time to address a sleep issue because your brain relishes darkness in the evening to prepare for sleep.’

She suggests using winter as a time to slow down and get your sleep back on track.

She adds: ‘Keep the lights dim, light some candles and get snuggly.’

Recreate the sunrise 

For some, Nicky says waking up and getting out of bed when it’s still dark during winter mornings can be difficult – and leave you feeling groggy.

‘Even when your eyes are shut, your brain detects the light through closed eyelids which helps to wake you up in the morning,’ she says. ‘So, to help, you can find lamps that artificially replace the light to slowly recreate a sunrise.’ 

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