Feeling tired now the clocks have changed? Learn the best ways to adjust

The clocks changing can lead to us losing sleep and feeling “jet lagged” afterwards. Get these expert tips on how to adjust to it.

The clocks have gone forwards by an hour – and the downside of lighter evenings is that we could lose precious rest.  

We don’t just mean that hour that “disappears” overnight. You might be thinking: “Surely a single hour doesn’t make that much of a difference?”

Actually, research has shown that even an hour’s less sleep can have a negative effect on our health and ability to perform tasks. And even if you’ve had a Sunday morning lie-in, the change in clocks can act a bit like jet lag, giving you a grumpy, tired few days following the change. 

The good news is, there are things you can do to avoid the problems. We’ve spoken to experts to find out what you can do.  

A picture of an old-fashioned alarm clock on a springtime scene with grass and flowersCredit: Exceptional / mvc _stock
The clocks changed at 1am on Sunday March 26

Go to bed earlier

Shift your bedtime

It can take a few days for our circadian rhythm (our body’s internal clock) to adjust to the change. Although it’s too late now for this clocks change, going to bed slightly earlier in the days leading up can help, says psychologist Dr Nicole Moshfegh. “The best way to help our bodies prepare for the hour we’ll lose is to gradually adjust the time difference.  

“If we suddenly have a shift of more than 45 minutes in our wake time our body will become confused.  We’ll likely experience some challenges as result – similar to jet lag.” Which could lead to tiredness and exhaustion.  

Moshfegh suggests going to bed and getting up 15 minutes earlier every night leading up to the clock change, which will make it easier for our bodies to adapt. 


Did you know?  

We have a builder to thank for promoting the idea of British Summer Time. William Willett published a pamphlet in 1907 called “The Waste of Daylight”. He campaigned and gained support from MP Robert Pearce. It took a few years, but on Sunday, March 21 1916 the clocks were put forward by an hour.  

Keep good habits

Use sleep hygiene

Keeping good sleep habits in place is key to helping you have a stress-free time change, advises psychotherapist Dee Johnson. “Don’t drink alcohol as a nightcap, and try to leave three hours after a big meal before going to bed. 

“Also stay away from screens when you’re winding down, as the exposure to the blue light confuses our internal body clock.” 

Johnson advises using an eye mask to block out the early morning light if you don’t have a blackout blind. This will help stop the early morning light waking you up too soon.   

Stay awake during the day

Resist the urge to nap

Even though a nap might seem like the best way to “catch up” on that lost hour, you’ll just confuse your body more, says neurologist Dr Chris Winter. “Resist the temptation to sleep in late, or nap during the adjustment. Get up at your usual wake time and seek light instead.”  

Winter says suggests using either natural light or a light therapy lamp to help your body understand it’s time to start the day and help reprogram your circadian rhythm. 

In 2019, the European parliament voted to stop changing clocks twice a year – although this decision has not come into effect in Europe, and it’s unclear when (or if) it will. In any case, due to Brexit, the UK doesn’t need to do the same.

A UK poll from 2019 showed 59% of Britons would opt to stay on BST permanently, while 22% would prefer to have the clocks set to winter time, which would mean more light in the mornings, but less in the evenings year-round. It’s possible that clocks changing might eventually get scrapped, but there are no active plans to change it at the moment.  

Be optimistic

Focus on the positive

Having more light during the day is a positive thing, says Johnson. “It means we can socialise and do activities for longer, which is a massive mental health bonus.” 

The positive effects of more daylight include getting more vitamin D, which is needed to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy. Research has also shown exposure to sunlight can lower blood pressure. 

The clocks change is designed to give us more light at the times when we’re more likely to be outside, so try to make the most of it if you can.   

Plus, it might mean the clock in your car is finally showing the correct time again.  

When do the clocks change?

The clocks move an hour forward at 1am on Sunday March 26. 

Rebecca Frew

Written by Rebecca Frew she/her


Becky Frew has written various articles for newspapers and magazines focusing on fitness, is a qualified run leader, and a certified sleep talker trainer who loves to help advise people how they can nod off easier.

When she is not writing or reading about fitness, she is at hot pod yoga, bounce class, training for an ultra-marathon or booking anything with a medal and free food at the end.

Outside of work Becky is practicing her Finnish (Hei!) for her dream holiday to Finland next year, and writing her 3rd book while cuddling her cats Giggles and Rebel- the latter of which really lives up to her name!

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