Coping with an hour’s less sleep – clocks go forward this weekend

Daylight Savings Time Clock Advice


None of us want to get less sleep, but this weekend on Sunday 31st March, we’re all going to be a little more sleep deprived. 

If you’re a mum and your thoughtful kids give you a lie in – it’s Mother’s Day too – it’s probably not so bad.  But for the rest of us, losing an hour’s sleep is not the best start to a Sunday morning.


What difference does an hour really make? 

Medically, shifting your body clock by one hour takes you about 5 – 7 days to properly adjust to the difference.  Obviously you’ll feel is a little more tired in the evenings and on Monday morning – April Fools Day this year – you’re less likely to be brimming with the energy, perky pranks and the joys of life on r.

Seriously though, the effects of the hour going forward can actually be more significant than we would think.  The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (the ‘leading voice in the sleep field’)  have done significant studies into the impact of the clocks changing on our sleep and it’s quite shocking.

“Studies are consistent in showing that with DST (Daylight Saving Time) changes, there is sleep disruption. This disruption in sleep/wake patterns manifests as a decrease in total sleep time and tired man sitting on a bed jpgsleep quality, and in some studies, decrements in daytime measures of cognition” – AASM daylight saving time sleep health advisory

So even if we manage to go to bed earlier and get used to the time change, the depth and quality of our sleep and our ability to think clearly is affected.   The AASM go on to say that “Reports on the effects of DST  vehicular (car) accident rates … give ample cause for concern.”

They further recommend caution for “at least 7 days” after the clocks change if you are attempting any tasks which require “maximal alertness”.


Who does it affect the most? 

According to the AASM and the National Sleep Foundation, people who are already sleep-deprived are most affected by daylight savings.  This is not surprising, nor to be honest, particularly helpful information if you’re exhausted.

Tired parent with child

Parents with young children may feel ‘jet-lagged’ for weeks after the clocks go forward.

Two groups of people often suffer from this the most.

Firstly, those who have already disturbed sleep patterns and whose circadian rhythm may already be out of whack with night-wakings, difficulty getting to sleep and / or early morning alertness.

Secondly, those who are affected by other people’s sleep patterns being disturbed: i.e. parents with young children.   Small children and toddlers can take longer than adults to get used to the clock change, as they’re unable to rationalise it, or ‘just have a lie in’ as we can.  Early morning wakings and irritability / tiredness in the afternoons can last for a frustratingly long time.



So how do we best cope with the time-change? 

Fortunately, there are some really easy things we can do to manage losing the hour’s sleep.


    • PLAN AHEAD.  If can, go to bed earlier in the few days running up to the clocks going forward  – ‘Graduated adjustment of sleep and wake times beginning 2-3 days before the time change’ can help with this transition (AASM).


    • BE DISCIPLINED – early nights.  Obviously, try to go to bed half an hour earlier than normal on Sunday and the next few days – it may take a while to fall asleep but you’ll still get a few minutes more than you would have done each night.


    • SEE THE LIGHT!   Light is really important.  Our sleep cycle is ruled by our circadian rhythm which takes cues from the amount of light around us.  Natural light is particularly important to help us feel alert, or darkness to help us increase our melatonin levels which makes us feel sleepy.
      So on Sunday, and more importantly Monday and Tuesday mornings when you wake up tired, try to get as much natural light as possible as soon as you get up.  This will make you feel more awake and alert.   Exercise during the day will help you sleep better at night and also give you a sunlight boost.


    • EMBRACE THE DARKNESS.  Similarly, darkness is vital for us to sleep well.  Good sleep hygiene habits are crucial if you want to get over the time change, or jet lag, fast.  You know what to do: lights low, phones off (or at least blue-light filter on) and cue your mind and body for sleep.  And black-out blinds for kids – if you haven’t got them already, they’re the best tenner you can spend this time of year.Our sister site, Duvet Advisor has tips on choosing the right bedding for toddlers and children which can also help as spring gets warmer.



For more helpful tips about how to manage the time-change, we think the best article out there is:  Why Do The Clocks Go Forward? | Sleep Matters Club  – a brilliant, easy to read advice guide by Dreams.


Why Do the Clocks Go Forward_Dreams