This year, the clocks are set to go back in the UK on Sunday 31st October at 2am. It’s almost time for lighter mornings and darker evenings. It might not be your favourite time of year, but it definitely makes for cosier nights at home.
The clocks go back every year, but for some reason the date and time always proves tricky to remember. And, when the kids ask why we do it, many of us are stunned into silence without an explanation. Not to worry, though. We’re here to help.
In this quick guide, we’ll tell you all you need to know about the clocks going back; when it happens, why it happens, and what to do when it does happen to make sure your sleeping pattern stays strong and steady.
Why do the clocks go back and forward?
Once a year at the end of October, we switch from British Summer Time (BST) to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), bringing the time back one hour as we move into winter.
Why do the clocks go back and forward, though? The idea was the brainchild of United States founding father, Benjamin Franklin. In 1784, while in Paris, Benjamin Franklin suggested that if people woke up an hour earlier they’d receive more exposure to sunlight.
It wasn’t until after 1907 that this theory became a reality. At this time, William Willet popularised the idea in a pamphlet, ‘The Waste of Daylight’, in which he detailed how summer daylight hours were wasted. He argued that we’d consume less energy for heat and light – fuelled mostly by coal at the time – because we’d be more exposed to the natural light and heat of the sun.
The UK introduced British Summer Time hours in 1916, bringing the rule of the clocks going forward to allow everyone to enjoy the perks of summer with more time to enjoy the daylight. This forward change in March also meant a loss of early morning light in the autumn and winter months, so BST hours change back to GMT every October.
What happens when the clocks go back?
The clocks going back marks the end of British Summer Time. Unfortunately, this means we say goodbye to bright blue summer skies and hello to darker, moodier nights. If you’re an early-bird, though, you’ll be in favor of the lighter, brighter mornings. Even more reason to go for that early morning run.
Will my phone automatically change the time when the clocks go back?
If you have a smartphone, like an iPhone or Android, then yes. Your phone should automatically update while you sleep. If it doesn’t, set yourself a reminder to do it yourself in the morning. After all, you don’t want to be running an hour behind everyone else. Imagine the horrifying look on your boss’ face when you turn up to work late!
Do you get an extra hour of sleep when the clocks go back?
The good news – yes! In summer, we lose an hour of sleep, but in winter we gain that back. In fact, the day the clocks go back an hour is celebrated as National Sleep In Day – the day where people can enjoy a much-deserved lie-in. If that doesn’t bring a smile to your face, we don’t know what will.
How can the clock change affect some people’s sleep?
Although the extra hour of sleep is welcomed by many, a change in time can result in more problems for people who already struggle to sleep come bedtime.
At Silentnight, we take sleep very seriously. It’s not something that should ever be tampered with. When it is, we take it personally, as we like to think of ourselves as the Sleep Superheroes. No bad or average night’s sleep will ever happen on our watch.
If your sleep has suffered as a result of the clocks going back, don’t fret. We’re here. Find your bedtime dilemma below and take note of our top tips:
- Lighter mornings – the brighter mornings may wake you up earlier than you’re used to. The key here is to make sure your bedroom is completely free of light. That means thick, opaque curtains – and absolutely no gaps for sunlight to creep through.
- Less exposure to sunlight – lower levels of vitamin D, increased levels of fatigue. If and when you can, go for a morning or mid-afternoon walk or jog to get some sun. During the day, open your curtains to welcome more light and, after sunset, do the opposite. Dim all your lights, close your curtains, wind down and get ready for some rest.
- Higher use of central heating – this can make the home too warm, resulting in an uncomfortable night’s sleep. But remember, don’t shy away from using the heating too much. A cold night’s sleep is just as bad a hot one, so try to keep your home at the optimum temperature of between 16 to 18 degrees Celsius.
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) – many people start to experience this type of depression when the days become shorter. In the UK, it affects around 1-in-15 people every year. The cause is unknown, but we all know how mental health can have a serious impact on our sleep. To help, try to ban technology from your nighttime routine and try to go to sleep and wake up at the same times every day – even on weekends.
- An old, uncomfortable bed or mattress – if you’re struggling to find that comfy spot at night, it could be about time to replace your bed or mattress, especially if either one is over 7 years’ old. If you can’t get cosy at night, there’s no chance you’ll get a good night’s sleep.
Adjusting to any sort of time change is hard, even if it’s just one hour. Get yourself prepared for this year’s clock-change event by jotting down our tips. Enjoy the extra hour.
With the clocks changing, it’s a clear sign of winter approaching. Make sure you’re cosy, healthy and safe through the longer nights with our new winter bedding range.