A sleep expert has shared her advice on preparing your body for the clocks going back tonight – including the meal that could help fight off the morning sluggishness
British Summer Time is set to come to an end while we sleep tonight, with the clocks going back by an hour at 2 am. And while the extra hour in bed on a lazy Sunday morning is a blessing to many, the change can actually wreak havoc with our sleeping patterns and can leave us feeling sluggish as we try to adjust.
The impact of the clocks changing can last for up to a week, but according to sleep expert April Mayer, we don’t have to suffer through the jet-lagged feeling, as there are plenty of steps we can take today to make sure we’re prepared for the shift – including making sure we eat the right foods and relax before bed.
April, from Amerisleep, explained that a normal sleep pattern is important for mental and physical health, and by doing what we can to minimise the impact of the clocks changing, it can lessen the chances of us facing the “negative effects”, such as a feeling of sluggishness during the day.
She said: “The change in sleep pattern can lead to a jet-lagging effect, as our bodies are used to a certain rhythm. If you don’t take steps to minimize the effect, it can take a few days or even around a week to get your sleep schedule back on track.
“Our circadian rhythms are governed by sunlight and other environmental cues, which means you will feel the effects of your sleeping pattern changes without any preparation.
“However, knowing this means that you can take steps to smooth the transition and avoid any negative effects.”
So, what can you do today to make sure you’re ready for the change?
April says one of the best things you can do is make sure your dinner isn’t too heavy and is packed with protein, as this will promote sleepiness and will give you the best chance of nodding off at the right time.
You can also promote a healthy sleep environment by switching off your electronic devices two hours before bedtime, taking a warm bath or shower, and enjoying a light activity that will help your brain wind down.
The expert added: “The night before the expected clock change, we advise eating a light, protein-filled dinner to promote sleepiness. We also recommend maximizing your relaxation by shutting off all your screens about two hours before bedtime.
“Unwind with a warm bath or shower, some light stretches, and a good book or another light activity like colouring or knitting.
“It’s also important to make sure you’re getting a full night’s rest and maintaining a healthy sleep schedule before the change. Getting at least seven hours of sleep a night can keep you from feeling tired when the switch occurs.”
April said the transition can be even trickier for parents, as they have to manage not only their sleep schedules, but also their children’s. To make this easier, try to wear out your kids during the day with outdoor activities so that they’re exhausted and ready for bed tonight.
She explained: “Parents can prepare their children for the clock change by adjusting their bedtime a couple of weeks before the switch. When it’s almost time to move the clock back an hour, we suggest rolling forward a child’s bedtime by about 15 minutes, putting them to bed at the new time for a couple of days, and then continuing the cycle by adjusting bedtime by 15 more minutes.
“Parents can also try to wear out their children the day of the change with numerous outdoor activities, ensuring the kids are tired enough to go to bed with minimal fuss. As a bonus, parents may also find it easier to fall asleep the night of the clock change.”
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