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“Spring forward, Fall back.”

“Spring forward, Fall back.”

In the UK every year, the clocks go forward by one hour at 1am on the last Sunday in March. The clocks then go back one hour at 2am on the last Sunday in October. The period when the clocks go forward in March, is called British Summer Time (BST) and we get more daylight later in the evenings. We also call this Daylight-Saving Time. On the 29th October 2017, this ends and we return to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and most people see this as the start of the winter season.

The moving clocks were introduced by George Vincent Hudson and William Willett during World War One to gain more daylight hours after work. Before then, Hudson did shift work alongside collecting insects in his spare time, so appreciated the bright evenings. He proposed a 2-hour, daylight saving, shift and presented it to the Wellington Philosophical society in 1895. However, this wasn’t when it was put into practice. It took until 1905 for the issue to be raised again by Willett, and caught the attention of MP Robert Pearce who introduced the bill to the House of Commons. It was during the first world war that Germany became the 1st country to implement DST in 1916. 

In the UK, a maximum of 16 hours and 50 minutes of daylight falls in June, on the longest day of the year. Our years shortest day is a pitiful 7 hours and 49 minutes, on the 21st of December. In London, the sun will rise at 8:03am and set at 3:53pm.                                                            

The clock change will create an abrupt shift in the bodies external cues. These are called ‘Zeitgebers’, which include light, temperature, food and drink intakes and exercise levels. These cues help our internal body clock maintain a 24-hour circadian rhythm. The reduction in the amount of daylight could throw our body clocks out of sync. However, there are tools and techniques that can be adopted to help maintain balance. 

The best things to do during these upcoming months are: 

Avoid bright lights at night but get more natural light in the day!

Bright light at the wrong time of the day delays your body clock from thinking it is night time. Get ready for bed in candlelight rather than beaming blue light in your bathroom. Make sure all devices are off and out of the bedroom!

People think that blue light is a bad, when in fact sunlight is the main source of it. Blue light in general doesn’t cause a sleepless night, but when it is badly timed… it will! The light entering your system delays melatonin, a suppressant which aids sleep, from being produced and encourages serotonin to remain present. 

Think about your sleep environment!

When the clocks go back the mornings may be lighter, so be prepared. Make sure your sleep environment blocks out all external light sources. Introduce black-out blinds to minimize the chance of any glare from street lights creeping in, and the bright sun beaming in prematurely to your wake time. If you do introduce black out blinds, pair it with a body circadian based alarm clock, so your body adjusts to the morning daylight naturally, preparing you for wake. 

Take into consideration the extra hour!

For the first night, shift your sleep routine one hour later, as the extra hour at 2am will make up for it. You don’t want to disrupt your body clock’s routine any more than necessary, but it is important to remember that you must keep your wake time constant. For example:

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Because the clocks go back an hour at 2am, it means you’d be waking at your original 7am set wake time, but your body isn’t confused as it has had the same amount of sleep as normal. The following night, go back to the 10pm pre-sleep schedule and if you feel tired or run down the following day, just incorporate a ninety-minute CRP during the day to make up.

Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Many people find that they eat and sleep more in winter and dislike the shorter days, this is referred to as winter blues or winter depression. Others have more severe symptoms making work and training much more difficult. This is something more common than you’d think and is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

If you suffer from either winter depression or SAD, you will probably start to notice a difference around September time. You may not feel back to normal until the following April. The standard figure says that around 2% of people in Northern Europe suffer badly, with many more putting up with milder symptoms. Across the world, the incidence increases with distance from the equator, except where there is snow, when it becomes less common. More women are diagnosed with having SAD than men. Children and adolescents are also vulnerable.

Below are some symptoms, although you may not experience all of them, particularly if you suffer from the milder levels:

•Sleeping problems – oversleeping but not feeling refreshed and struggling to get out of bed. There may be a need for constant naps.

•Over eating – craving carbohydrates which may lead to weight gain if not part of a balanced diet.

•Mood decreases – feelings of depression, despair and anxiety may become more common and normal tasks become difficult.

•Social problems – avoiding company, loss of libido, feeing emotionally numb and feeling lethargic.

•Physical symptoms – joint pain, stomach problems and lowered resistance to infection.

•Behavior problems – seen mostly in younger people.

SAD is caused by a lack of bright light, more commonly in winter months when we experience shorter days. Research has proven that bright light makes a difference to the brains chemistry, but why only some people suffer and not everybody, is unclear.

The nerves in the center of the brain control our daily rhythms and moods, this is all stimulated by the amount of light that enters the eyes. As it becomes night, the pineal gland produces a hormone called melatonin and this is what tells our body that it is the evening. When light enters the body, this stops the production of the hormone; indicating to the body that it is no long night time. On dark winter days, not enough light is received to trigger the waking up process. Light is also linked to serotonin, the happy and wakeful hormone, and is a neurotransmitter in the brain. Evidence has shown that serotonin levels increase with bright light exposure!

Treating SAD can be easy. As the cause is lack of bright light, treatment is to be exposed to it every day. Going to a brightly lit climate, whether it is somewhere hot or snowy, will relieve symptoms, but of course this isn’t always possible.

The recommended level of light is the equivalent of spring morning, and for most people, 30 minutes a day in a similar light will be sufficient to alleviate the symptoms. This light needs to be suitably bright and at least 2500 lux, which is 5 times brighter than a well-lit office. So, my advice is to get out in to the natural daylight. If there is no natural daylight available then get a Lumie Arabica Lamp into your routine. The lamp provides 10,000 lux at the press of a button. Using the daylight lamp every day over the autumn and winter will make a big difference to symptoms such as tiredness, over-eating and a lack of energy and motivation.

For more information on this product click here . Please consult your doctor if you believe you may be suffering from a sleep disorder / depressive illness.

For advice on how to tackle this year’s winter gloom, invest in an R90 Sleep Profile Consult with Sleep Coach Nick Littlehales, available here: http://bit.ly/2mIvEFh

"If you are serious about your training and especially your recovery to exercise or even everyday living, you may have over looked your sleeping. Look at your sleeping as training and every night you get a chance to perfect it. The benefits of a sleep consultation could be a game changer, so forget about the next upgrade for your bike and book a consultation with Nick. You have all heard of marginal gains from [Sir] Dave Brailsford and this one is available to you.CS, consult customer.


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