Bedtime clock change tips:

The days are cooling and the nights are drawing in; autumn has surely arrived and winter beckons.

The clocks going back at the end of October really marks the end of summer for me and this year it is on Sunday 28 October 2018 at 2am.

For most of our clients establishing a good bedtime routine including fixed sleep and wake times is an important part of a fatigue management programme.

So what to do when the clocks go back by an hour?

Tip 1 – Use the time change to your advantage

If you’re currently stuck with a bedtime that’s later than you’d like, you can always take advantage of the autumn clock change to move things an hour earlier.  A midnight bedtime becomes 11pm and by continuing to set your morning alarm for 7am you will have now achieved that strived for 8 hours sleep!

 Tip 2 – Prepare in advance

Begin delaying the start of your bedtime routine by 10-15 minutes each week for the 4-6 weeks preceding the end of British Summer Time.  By the time it comes for the clocks to change your bedtime will have moved by the hour needed. 

Tip 3 – Remember to start your wind down time earlier

Always plan in a wind down time prior to going to bed and start this earlier to reflect the clocks moving back by an hour.  In the 1-2 hours prior to sleep, change your activities to something relaxing and put away your tablet or phone.  Try to avoid caffeine after midday and don’t eat too late in the evening.

Tip 4 – Stick to your bedtime routine

Aim to carry out the same series of steps every night, about 60 minutes before you go to bed e.g.:

  1. A warm relaxing bath
  2. Go straight from the bathroom into the bedroom – do not go back into the living area
  3. Dim the lights – this will help with the release of the sleep hormone melatonin
  4. Read a book or use a sleep relaxation
  5. Turn out the bedside lights at the same time each night.

Tip 5 – Minimise clutter in your bedroom, it’s a place for sleep and sex only

Insomniacs tend to have a lot of items in their bedrooms to occupy themselves because they predict that they will not sleep and need distractions.  Make sure your bedroom is as boring as possible with only the sleep essentials to hand.

Tip 6– Create a healthy sleep environment

A dark room is invaluable to promote sleep, ensure the bedroom temperature is comfortably cool and noise is minimised.

Tip 7 – Keep to your regular wake up time

Keeping to a regular sleep-wake schedule, especially a regular getting up time in the morning is important to achieving good sleep.  Even if you have trouble falling asleep at night following the clock change, get up at the normal time and take extra rests during the day if you are tired.  The increased need to sleep at bedtime should ensure you fall asleep at the new time the following night.

Tip 8 – Regular exercise and daylight

As the nights draw in it is easy to forget about getting outside to exercise in favour of snuggling up in front of the TV.  But daily exposure to natural light, especially in the morning, promotes the production of melatonin which is then released later in the evening to aid sleep.  Daylight is also essential to the production of vitamin D and is known to help improve mood.

If you haven’t done so already, establish a walk at a baseline level.

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