Clocks Moving Forward - What Does It Do To Our Bodies?

Dr. Hana Patel

Author: Dr. Hana Patel



Clocks Moving Forward - What Does It Do To Our Bodies?

As the clocks jump forward an hour on Sunday 26th March 2023, we welcome spring and the extra hour of sunlight it brings. Unfortunately, this change can disrupt our sleep cycle, leaving us feeling groggy and tired as we adjust to the 60 minutes of lost sleep. 

Dr Hana Patel, sleep expert at Time4Sleep, shares tips on how to cope with the springtime clock change and get back to a healthy sleep routine: “When the clocks change, our circadian rhythm - the internal body clock that helps regulate our hormones and temperature - has to re-calibrate, and it can take a few days for our body to adjust to our new sleep cycle.”

Anxious about the first night's sleep after the time change? Dr Patel has got you covered with an explanation of what happens to our bodies during Daylight savings time and four helpful tips for getting your sleep routine back on track. Find out how to feel well-rested despite the hour shift!

What happens to your body when the clocks go forward?

Every year on the last Sunday in March, we gain an extra hour of sunlight. Although this change is expected, many of us find ourselves unprepared for the shift. To better understand the effects of this lack of sleep, Dr Patel explains what happens to our bodies when we don't get enough rest.

“Our bodies can get more stressed with less sleep, this in turn can increase hunger, make us more irritable and less able to concentrate. Evidence has even shown that when the clocks go forward, there’s an increase in the number of heart attacks and strokes¹.”

(A little) preparation is key

Dr Patel reveals how pre-planning the day before Daylight Saving Time can help make the adjustment smoother: “If you’re worried about your Monday start, make the move early and change your clocks on Saturday morning instead of Sunday. This gives your sleep cycle the full weekend to adapt.”

Keep waking times the same for children 

While adults may be more accustomed to adjusting their sleep patterns, it can be more difficult for children to adapt to schedule changes. Dr Patel agrees: “Children thrive on routine and the clocks changing can interrupt their natural sleep schedule. 

“I would recommend focusing on being consistent with waking times rather than when they go to bed, and unless they are already napping, try to avoid them during the day. Their natural sleep cycle should kick in again after a day or two.”

Let the sunshine in

Is a little morning light the answer to improving our sleep cycles? Dr Patel says: “Sunlight is important when it comes to regulating our sleep cycle, as it helps to reset our circadian clock by telling your body to stop producing the sleep hormone melatonin. 

“For people who find it difficult to wake up in the mornings, allowing sunlight into your bedroom will help you wake naturally, making you feel more alert.”

Sack off stimulation

Dr Patel recommends a digital detox before bedtime to help reset your sleep cycle. To answer the question of whether or not to scroll, Dr Patel suggests avoiding it for a better night's rest: “I’d recommend limiting television, tablets and phones for at least a few hours before bedtime, as the blue light can stimulate you and make it harder to fall asleep. 

“Cutting out stimulants helps improve sleep around the clocks changing, and aids in the resetting process, allowing us to adapt to this change with ease.”