Why do we change the clocks twice a year?
BST, also known as Daylight Saving Time, was initially designed to help people maximise their sunlight hours throughout the year. It was created following a campaign by British builder William Willett with the Summer Time Act of 1916.
William Willett wrote about his idea in his 1907 pamphlet called The Waste of Daylight, in which he proposed that days were made longer in the summer so he could play golf for longer. Eventually, his idea was introduced to the UK a year after his death. Shortly after, Germany and Austria also introduced Daylight Saving Time.
Now, most countries in mainland Europe also change their clocks in summer and winter. It was thought that the new way of observing time would make the most of natural sunlight and conserve energy, which was essential during World War I when coal was limited. The logic was that it was pointless to waste electricity when there was actual daylight still to be used.
Preparing for Daylight Saving Time
1. Enjoy a lie-in
This is the one day of the year that you can lie in and at the same time not get up any later, so make the most of it! Having said that, aim to keep your sleeping pattern regular before and after the clock change, especially the time you get up in the morning, as this will help limit its impact on your nighttime sleep quality and daytime energy levels.
2. Gradually transition
If you know you’re sensitive to the clock change, then it is best to ease your body into the time shift. Go to bed and get up 20 minutes later three days before the change. This way, your body clock will already be synced to the new time when it happens. For time-sensitive individuals, like babies and toddlers, it can be helpful to delay daytime naps, meals, baths and books.
3. The perfect sleep environment
Since Daylight Savings is out of our control, ensure that your sleep environment is a haven. For best-quality sleep, make sure your room is quiet, cool, dark and comfortable.
4. Put away electronics
Since the clock change can disrupt your circadian rhythm, minimise any other disruptions that may prevent you from achieving the perfect night’s sleep. Put away mobile phones and tablets, or put them on silent to reduce sleep interruptions.
5. Go for a walk
Exposure to morning sunlight helps to synchronise your internal body clock and adapt it to the new time. Get your light fix by going for a run or a brisk walk outside. The added tiredness will also help you to sleep better the next night.
Additional Sleep hygiene tweaks
Apart from moving your bed-time / wake time in steps and adjusting mealtimes, there are a
few other easy wins to help your body clock adjust.
The first is to exercise in the morning over the weekend (preferably outside to get sunlight). This is proven to help people get to sleep more easily in the evening.
Another would be to include things which help you to relax in the evening. Perhaps get your body to relax by having a bath with lavender and do some stretching or yoga.
Finally, to help your brain wind down, dimming the lights and reading a book, rather than watching TV, are tried and tested relaxation methods. These help your mind wind down for bedtime, creating the desire for sleep.
I hope these tips allow you to wake up this coming Monday refreshed and ready for work.