When the clocks go either backwards or forwards, research has shown that it takes five to seven days for the body to adjust to the new schedule. Therefore, during this time, you may not only find it harder to fall asleep and wake up, but you may suffer from insomnia, fatigue, and low mood.
The time has come for the clocks to go back by one hour - Sunday 31st of October brings daylight savings to an end! Not only does this signal that we're going into one of the darkest, shortest, and coldest months of the year (fun!), but it also means that our circadian rhythms are knocked out of sync.
Although some people revel in the fact that days are getting shorter and darker and evenings are getting colder and cosier, a lot of people struggle at this time of year.
So, we're here for you if you're one of the many who dread the end of daylight savings! In this article, we'll be giving you some expert tips on how you can reduce the impact that the end of daylight savings has on your mental health to make those darker days a little brighter.
Why Do We Get Affected By The Clocks Going Backwards?
There are two main reasons why this time of year influences how so many of us feel - let's take a look at them!
The first reason the clocks going backwards affects us so much is due to the fact that it negatively impacts our main circadian rhythm: our sleep cycle! This rhythm is a natural process that regulates when we sleep and wake, repeating approximately every 24 hours.
When the clocks go either backwards or forwards, research has shown that it takes five to seven days for the body to adjust to the new schedule and properly create a rhythm for you again. Therefore, during this time, you may not only find it harder to fall asleep and wake up, but you may suffer from insomnia, fatigue, and low mood.
The second reason is because of the darker days. This is the time of the year when seasonal affective disorder (or, SAD) kicks in. Up to three in 100 people in the UK at some point in their life experience SAD.
This disorder is a direct result of the weather - with less exposure to sunlight, the circadian rhythm is affected (oh yes, it's back again!), lower serotonin levels are released, and higher levels of melatonin are produced. Therefore, these chemical processes and disruptions cause fatigue, anxiety, depression, loneliness, loss of interest, and more.
Now you know how the end of daylight savings can affect you, it's time to learn how to support yourself during this change.
5 Expert Tips On How You Can Cope
Following these 5 tips below will reduce the severity of which you will get affected by the clocks going backwards and the end of daylight savings, improving your physical and mental wellbeing.
#1 Focus On Good Sleep Hygiene
Although you should always be focusing on good sleep hygiene, when daylight savings come to an end and the clocks go back, prioritising healthy sleep hygiene will lower this change's effects on your physical and mental health.
To improve your sleep hygiene, stop drinking caffeinated drinks 6 hours before sleep and reduce your exposure to blue light (it blocks melatonin from being released) by putting down your phone or laptop at least one hour before bed. You can also eat foods that release melatonin a few hours before you plan to sleep and do mindfulness practices such as meditation.
However, when it comes to adapting to the clocks going backwards, the most important thing you can do is be consistent with your sleep-wake routine. Create and commit to a sleep-wake pattern so your body knows when it should be sleeping and waking, and your circadian rhythm is more likely to be supported.
However, you may want to make alterations to this sleep-wake pattern a few days before the clocks go back...
#2 Prep A Few Days Before By Getting Into A New Routine
You don't need to think about the end of daylight savings as some scary and uncomfortable change - all you need to do is prepare for it. One of the best ways to prepare for this change is to alter your routine slightly.
Since the clocks go back, if you want to ensure that you're still getting up in time for work or other commitments every morning and you're still getting your 7-8 hours of sleep per night, you may need to alter your sleep-wake cycle!
Two to three days before the clocks go back, alter your sleep-wake cycle slightly. After that, you don't need to do much, but going to bed and getting up 20-30 minutes later can help your body get synced to the time when it changes!
#3 Get Outside In The Light Every Morning
If you can, whether it's a walk to work, sitting in your garden, or simply opening the curtains and opening the window, try and get a dose of natural light every morning.
Exposing yourself to natural light in the morning helps boost serotonin levels in your body and provides you with a boost in energy for the day ahead. In addition, it can also help regulate your circadian rhythm and promotes better sleep when bedtime comes!
In fact, doctors have suggested natural sunlight when it comes to treating depression and effective seasonal disorder, so getting out in the natural light is a good idea if you can!
#4 Use Light Therapy
Although getting natural sunlight is a great idea, sometimes this is simply impossible to do. Endless days of grey skies, rain, and darkness in the UK are almost guaranteed at this time of the year, and therefore exposing yourself to natural light is not possible on a daily basis!
However, there's no need to panic - you can still benefit from light. You just need to use artificial light! Sun lamps, also known as SAD lamps, are scientifically proven to reduce the severity of SAD and support a healthy sleep-wake cycle.
Much like natural sunlight, these types of lamps help the body produce serotonin and help the body regulate levels of melatonin.
If you're someone that suffers from SAD or you want a little extract support during this seasonal change, take a look at Lumie, available on Juno.
Lumie produces both SAD lamps that ensure you get your light therapy while you get on with your day and wake up lamps that imitate a sunrise in your bedroom to wake you up gently.
If you have a different SAD lamp in mind, you can request it through Concierge!
#5 Boost Seratonin Levels By Exercising
Getting at least one hour of exercise on a daily basis is essential if you're to maintain a healthy level of wellbeing. However, there's no better time to prioritise exercise than when the clocks go back.
Exercise releases endorphins and promotes higher serotonin levels, meaning that you can boost your mental wellbeing whilst improving your physical form!
However, the benefits of exercise don't just stop there. Exercise also improves energy levels, reduces depression and anxiety, and improves sleep quantity and quality.
Unless you really want to, you don't have to go crazy and do high-intensity workouts for hours, you can get those feel-good hormones running through your body by walking, practising yoga, and doing aerobic exercises.
You're All Set To Turn The Clocks Back!
Now you know exactly why the end of daylight savings time knocks you out of your rhythm so much and can cause such a low mood, and you're aware of how to support yourself during this time and lift your spirits, you should be able to get through this change a little more smoothly. But remember, if you're struggling, reach out for help.