Clocks go back: 8 ways to adjust your sleep in preparation for daylight savings

You can make some small tweaks to have a better sleep this daylight savings. (Getty Images)
You can make some small tweaks to have a better sleep this daylight savings. (Getty Images)

One of the best things about the Autumn/Winter daylight savings is the extra hour we get in bed. This year, clocks go back on Sunday 29 October - but you might not get that extra hour of sleep if you don’t start to adjust your body clock beforehand.

"If you don’t alter your bedtime before the clocks change, you may find that you wake up too early and find yourself tossing and turning in bed until your alarm goes off. This can leave you feeling tired during the day, as though you didn’t have a good night’s sleep," Dr Lindsay Browning, psychologist, neuroscientist and sleep expert for And So To Bed, says.

With this in mind, Browning has detailed eight ways you can get your sleep hygiene - or sleep habits - just right before the clocks go back at the weekend, including cutting down on alcohol and increasing your exercise levels.

Stop caffeine intake at 2pm

Caffeine is one of the main culprits for sleepless nights, so if you’re looking to have better sleep hygiene this daylight savings, Browning recommends having your last cup of coffee no later than 2pm.

"Caffeine has an average half life of six hours. That means that six hours after your cup of coffee, half of the caffeine is still in your system," she explains.

"Caffeine is not only found in tea and coffee, but also in chocolate and in soft drinks such as cola and energy drinks, including the sugar-free variety."

Don’t lie in bed for long periods if you can’t sleep

It’s a familiar feeling, waking up in the middle of the night and your mind starts racing, preventing you from falling asleep.

Instead of lying in bed willing yourself to get some shut eye, Browning recommends reading a chapter of a book instead before trying again afterwards.

"The longer you lie in bed trying to sleep and clock watching, paradoxically the more anxious you are likely to get about not sleeping," she says.

Smiling woman using smart phone while lying on bed
If you wake up in the middle of the night, avoid using your smartphone. (Getty Images)

Keep to a regular bedtime

A regular bedtime is important to keep your circadian rhythm in check - or the 24 hour cycle that your body goes through day to day.

A regular bedtime can also help you to sleep better, but to prepare for daylight savings, try shifting your bedtime back by 15 minutes for a few nights in the days leading up to the clocks changing. This way, by the time daylight savings comes around your body will already be adjusted to the new time.

Increase your exercise levels

"The more you exercise, the more deep sleep you will have. Deep sleep helps you to feel refreshed when you wake up, and helps with sleep continuity," Browning explains.

"Make sure that you exercise during the daytime and not too close to bedtime, as exercise in the evening can sometimes be disruptive to sleep, due to the release of endorphins and adrenaline."

Cut down on alcohol

While alcohol is a sedative, Browning explains that when alcohol is metabolised it can promote wakefulness in the latter half of the night, which can cause you to wake frequently in the early hours.

"Alcohol affects the normal progression of the sleep stages we go through each night, meaning that the sleep we do get is not as restorative," she adds.

"Instead, consuming alcohol at lower doses has less of a disruptive effect on sleep - you are less likely to wake up in the early hours and your sleep stages will be closer to normal the less you have drunk resulting in better sleep."

Create a calming space in your bedroom

The clocks going back is the perfect excuse to have an autumn clear-out of your bedroom and create a calming space ahead of the winter months.

"Keeping your bedroom tidy and creating a peaceful and calming environment for you to escape to at night - as opposed to a dumping ground or work room during the day - is essential for a good night’s sleep, as it ensures your brain and body associate this room with rest," Browning says.

woman on bed
Getting a good sleep is easier in a calming bedroom. (Getty Images)

Stay off your phone before bed

"Make sure that you switch off your electronic devices an hour before bed, in particular, your phone. Smartphones emit blue light which is the same as daylight," Browning explains.

"This tricks the brain into thinking it is day time which can make it difficult to transition into sleep mode when bedtime rolls around. Try reading a book or meditating before you sleep instead."

Take a warm bath

Browning explains that having a warm bath at the end of the day can help you sleep due to it raising your body’s temperature.

"If you have a warm bath, then you artificially raise your body temperature and when you come out of the warm bath, your body temperature will naturally start to drop," Browning says. She adds that this mimics the drop in temperature that happens as you fall asleep, which is why taking a bath will make you feel sleepier.

Daylight savings: Read more