If you’ve noticed the evenings are staying lighter for longer, you will be pleased to know the clocks will be changing this weekend as we make our way into spring.

When the clocks go forward an hour and we enjoy more daylight, it can boost our mood and increase our productivity.

But the changes, due on Sunday, March 26 at 1am, can disrupt our body’s internal clock and our sleep, for more than just one night.

The sleep experts at Opera Beds said this is down to the sudden change in timing of our exposure to daylight and the subsequent changes to our daily schedules.

The National: The clocks going forward an hour is a sign of the warmer months comingThe clocks going forward an hour is a sign of the warmer months coming (Image: Canva)

The specialist adjustable bed retailer has shared advice about how and why the changes affect us, the mental and physical benefits of lighter evenings, and tips on how to deal with the shift to avoid as much disruption to our beloved sleep as possible.

How to prepare for the clock changes and get a good night’s sleep

  • Gradually adjust your sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up 10-15 minutes earlier each day in the days leading up to March 26th, to adapt to the new time
  • Keep a consistent sleep routine, even at weekends, to regulate your body’s internal clock and improve sleep quality
  • Keep your bedroom dark, quiet and cool for a sleep conducive environment - you might want to consider blackout curtains or earplugs to reduce distractions to sleep
  • Practice good sleep hygiene by avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bed and engage in relaxation practices to calm your body and mind before sleep

The National: The clocks changing can affect our health for more than one nightThe clocks changing can affect our health for more than one night (Image: Canva)

  • Spend time outdoors during the day as exposure to sunlight can reduce feelings of tiredness associated with the clocks changing
  • Avoid exposure to blue light emitted by phones, tablets and laptops to promote good sleep

What do the experts say about clock changes affecting our health?

Opera Beds said: “When the clocks go forward it signifies the beginning of British Summer Time. Many people assume any disruption to sleep may only occur on the night of the changes, or the next morning, but unfortunately this isn't always the case.

“Our body has an internal clock known as the circadian rhythm, a cycle which repeats roughly every 24 hours and regulates the timing of various physiological processes like sleep, our metabolism and hormone production.

“Circadian rhythms are partly influenced by environmental cues like the time of our exposure to daylight, and the amount of it. A sudden shift in this exposure and the changes we then make to our lifestyles can disrupt the rhythm and make it difficult to fall asleep at a new earlier bedtime or generally mean we wake up tired.
The National: How will you be making the most of the extra daylight?How will you be making the most of the extra daylight? (Image: Canva)

“The good thing is, extra daylight is widely known to boost our wellbeing in many ways. We benefit from having more motivation to go outside which means more opportunities for activities, including exercise and social interaction which is good for our mental and physical health.

“We get more exposure to Vitamin D which can boost our mood and reduce the risk of certain diseases, among other health benefits, and the start of the lighter evenings can help to combat seasonal depression, also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder.”

According to Dr Sue Peacock, a consultant health psychologist at Well aHead who specialises in sleep disorders, spending time outside during the day can reduce the feelings of tiredness associated with the clocks changing.

She shared her tips and advice with Opera Beds, adding: “Melatonin is the hormone produced by the pineal gland in our brain which regulates our sleep-wake cycle. It is secreted in response to darkness and helps us feel tired and ready for bed - and is suppressed by light - so when we’re exposed to more daylight our bodies may produce less melatonin.

“Spending time outdoors will be helpful as natural light drives our circadian rhythms, so exposure to sunlight can reduce the feelings of tiredness during the day associated with the clocks changing. 

“Changing the clocks to British Summer Time can sometimes cause a temporary disruption to our sleep pattern as our bodies adjust to the new schedule. This can be exacerbated for those who are sensitive to changes in their sleep schedules or who have existing sleep disorders. 

“For some it can take a few days for their melatonin levels to adjust to the new light and dark cycle.”