Many will be glad of the sudden transformation to lighter evenings that the move to British Summer Time brings. However this shift in our schedules can have some downsides too. Apart from losing an hour of sleep this weekend, time ‘springing’ forward will have an impact on our internal body clocks. The circadian rhythms that keep us synchronised with nature’s cycles of day and night, feed into the body’s ability to self-regulate. Therefore a disruption in this area can affect everything from our energy levels, heart rate and body temperature to digestive function and perceived stress.
Research has shown that this time of year is associated with more road and work related accidents as well as health emergencies. Not only do we feel more tired during the daytime but the increased evening light hinders the release of melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep. Digestion can be impacted due to the resetting of our regular meal times, meaning that the gut is having to digest food that it isn’t ready for. Even our immune response is affected as this also links with our internal body clocks. So if you are feeling a little off-kilter over the next few days and beyond there may be a biological explanation.
How might we support ourselves during this time? Getting plenty of natural light in the morning and adjusting mealtimes to gradually move into the new timezone may help. We can also consider tools to help us to wind down to prepare for sleep and to deal with disturbed sleep. Evening yoga poses, simple breathing exercises and meditation can all be helpful.