The 5 best sleep tips for the time change
One in four suffers from health problems after the time change. The change to summer or winter time disrupts the sleeping rhythm and leads to problems falling asleep, sleep disorders and reduced concentration and performance. Find out here why the time change causes poor sleep and what tips you can use to prepare your body for the change and still sleep well.
Table of Contents
- The change to summer or winter time
- Our internal clock
- 5 Ssleeping tips for the time change
1. The change to summer or winter time
The clocks in Germany are changed twice a year. In autumn we switch from summer to winter time, in spring back to summer time. The change in spring robs us of an hour of sleep in the night from Saturday to the last Sunday in March , which means that it is light an hour longer in the evening and dark one hour longer in the morning will stay. When we switch to winter time, on the other hand, we can snooze an hour longer at the end of October.
However, changing the clock between two and three o'clock in the night and the resulting shift in the daily rhythm poses a small challenge for many people. Almost every fourth person reports health problems as a result of the time change. During this time, many people suffer from insomnia, difficulty falling asleep, concentration problems or negative moods and feel tired and listless for up to two weeks. And why exactly is it that we sleep badly after a time change?
2. Our internal clock
The fact that the change throws us off course in this way has to do with our natural biorhythm. Like all living beings, we humans also have an internal clock that controls our sleep-wake rhythm and ensures that we tire in the evening and wake up again in the morning. This so-called circadian rhythm is also influenced by external factors. Light and darkness serve, for example, as an external impulse that has a strong influence on the biochemical processes in our body and adapts our sleeping and waking phases to the natural daily routine. The change to a different time not only leads to one hour more or less sleep, but also acts like a kind of mini-jetlag - because the body needs time to adapt to the new conditions.
The widespread difficulties with falling asleep are mainly caused by the disruption of our hormonal balance. In the evening, when it gets dark, our body produces more of the melatonin known as the sleep hormone, which makes us tired and helps us to shut down and fall asleep. Over the course of the night, the melatonin level drops again and the body releases more cortisol in order to wake up in the morning. Because the change and adjustment of this hormone production does not work quickly, we usually feel very tired in the morning in the first few days after the time change and, on the other hand, feel much longer fitter in the evening. As a rule, our body has adapted to the new circumstances after a few days. However, some people continue to suffer from tiredness, problems falling asleep or depressive moods for up to two weeks and are less productive due to the disturbed sleep.
So that you can sleep well and wake up refreshed despite the time change, here are five tips that you can use to help your body adjust to summer or winter time.
Also discover our tips for more relaxation before bed and which simple tricks you can start the day with more awake.
3. Five sleeping tips for the time change
#1 Adjust sleep time early
A regular sleep rhythm promotes healthy sleep. As we get used to sleeping and waking times, it can be helpful to adjust your own sleeping patterns in the days before the time change.
When switching to winter time you can try staying up a little longer in the days leading up to the change to prepare for the extra hour.
When changing to daylight saving time, on the other hand, it is advisable to go to bed a little earlier. It is best to start by going to sleep first a quarter of an hour, then half an hour and finally three quarters of an hour earlier. This is how you adjust to the missing hour bit by bit and gently prepare your body for the new sleeping time.
#2 daylight and exercise in the fresh air
Daylight not only controls the sleep-wake cycle, but also ensures increased production of the "happiness hormone" serotonin, which is converted into the sleep hormone melatonin in our brain as darkness increases. So try to spend as much time outside as possible, for example by going for long walks or doing sports. Exercising in the fresh air is not only beneficial for the hormone balance, but also gets the circulation going, keeps you healthy and has a beneficial effect on falling asleep in the evening.
Take #3 meals earlier
Heavy digestive processes can hinder falling asleep and disrupt sleep. In order to prevent problems falling asleep, it can help to gradually move the evening meal to the back (change to winter time) or to the front (change to summer time) in the week before the time change. Plan your last meal of the day at best 3 to 4 hours before going to bed and avoid heavy, greasy foods as well as caffeinated or high-sugar drinks. You can find more tips for a sleep-promoting diet here.
#4 Forego the afternoon napUnder normal circumstances,
A short nap or Power Nap at midday are good ways to compensate for daytime tiredness or an acute lack of sleep and to recharge your batteries. But watch out! After a time change, it makes more sense not to sleep during the day in order to increase sleep pressure in the evening and prevent problems falling asleep or a lack of tiredness.
#5 Take time to adjust
Ultimately, our body simply needs some time to adapt its internal clock to the new external rhythm and the shift in social time structure. Make the transition easier for yourself by not planning too much stress in the days that follow and by not unnecessarily filling up your schedule. And even if you don't fall asleep or stay asleep in the evening, you shouldn't try to sleep compulsively. This puts additional stress on your body, promotes cortisol release and keeps you awake longer.
The time change disturbs our inner clock, which regulates the hormone balance and controls our sleep-wake cycle.
When changing to winter time, the clock is turned back and we "gain" an hour at night. When changing to daylight saving time, we "lose" an hour because the clock is put forward.
Prepare for the time change by shifting your evening meal in the days before and gradually going to bed earlier or later.
Spend plenty of time in the daylight and fresh air to support hormone production and promote tiredness in the evening.
Forgo an afternoon nap so that the sleep pressure increases in the evening and you can fall asleep better
Give your body time to adapt and avoid unnecessarily many appointments, heavy loads and stress in the first few days.
Greetings and see you soon!