The clocks changed on Sunday as British Summer Time (BST) began. We’ve all been looking forward to the longer days with the promise of chilled white wine on the patio after work… but there’s no denying it, many of us are finding this week tough because BST messes with our body clock. Some studies suggest that the 1-hour time change can trigger some pretty serious issues. Let’s have a quick look at some of them.
Lack of Sleep
Setting your clock forward 1 hour for BST in spring usually means most of us lose an hour of sleep the morning after the change. For some people, this may just be a minor annoyance – perhaps especially felt by all the mums around the UK who lost an hour of their relaxing Mother’s Day morning this year! However, the lack of sleep can have more profound effects.
A Swedish study found that the risk of having a heart attack increases in the first 3 working days after the clocks go forward.
Tiredness induced by the clock change is thought to be the main cause for the increase in traffic accidents and work place injuries when we return to work following the start of BST.
A Danish study found an 11% increase in depression cases after the seasonal time change. The cases dissipated gradually after 10 weeks.
An Australian study found that male suicide rates increased the days after the clocks changed.
A quick glance at social media this week points to the fact that more people were saying they were “tired” than normal or that Sunday was “National jet-lag day”. However, many also reported that they were feeling “happy” and “wonderful”—perhaps an effect of the longer evenings.
What can we do to help adjust?
- Eat a healthy breakfast when you wake up as food tells our body it’s the start of the day
- Go for a walk. Sunlight helps to adjust our body clocks
- Look after your sleep environment – bedrooms should be dark, cool, quiet and comfortable
- Avoid screens after 10pm: even if the screen has night mode, it’s still emitting light that will suppress the naturals secretion of melatonin (the sleepy hormone)
- Exercise, but not too close to bedtime
- Limit alcohol and caffeine
- Children need a little more help adjusting. It may be a lot to expect them to go to bed effectively an hour earlier than they did the previous day, so tweak bedtimes gradually – just 10 minutes or so each day. They’ll soon get there and be waking you up at the crack of dawn again…