How To Set Your Body Clock To Sleep Well In Winter

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The clocks have gone back, and while we've gained an extra hour in bed, we've lost an hour of daylight. While it might not sound like much, if you're not careful this change can throw your natural body rhythm and sleep cycle off-kilter as you struggle to adjust to the new sleeping pattern.

So, we spoke to sleep specialist Christabel Majendie for some insider tips on getting a good night's sleep and ensuring you don't spend winter falling asleep at impromptu moments. Here are our five top tips... 

Ease Into the Transition



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'The issue when the clocks change is that your sleep cycle is out of sync with the light cycle, which can lead to poor quality and fragmented sleep patterns,' suggests sleep expert Majendie. 

'You need to give your body time to gradually adjust to the change. Start by setting your alarm clock 15 minutes later than normal on the first day, and then gradually increase that to half an hour and then 45 minutes so the transition can take place over a few days.’

Develop a Bedtime Ritual



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Many of us fall into the trap of thinking we can rush around all day, jump into bed and instantly fall asleep. Ala, it's not always as easy as that. It's much better to start preparing for bed in advance, with a set routine that you can repeat throughout the week to wind down your nervous system.

Turn off all electronics at least an hour before bed, as the blue light has been proven to negatively affect the quality of your sleep. Instead have a warm bath, grab a mug of herbal sleep tea and pick up a good book or write in your diary

Calming scents such as lavender and chamomile are proven to be soothing and sleep-inducing, so stock up on pillow sprays like the This Works Deep Sleep spray to calm your mind. Or add some lavender essential oil to a steam diffuser to gently fill your room with scent. Once you’ve established a routine, the process and scents will trigger your brain to start preparing to go to sleep. 

'You should also incorporate relaxing techniques, like mindfulness and deep, yoga breathing,' says Majendie. 'That hour before bed is a sacred time to relax, so make the most of it.'

Schedule Your Heating

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There’s nothing worse than forcing yourself out of a warm and cosy bed when the house is freezing. Once the frost kicks in, set you heating to come on half an hour before your alarm to make things easier.

Smart gadgets, such as Hive Home and the Nest Thermostat make things easier as they let you control hot water and heating from your phone. Put a fluffy dressing gown and a comfortable pair of slippers by your bed at night, too. You'll thank yourself in the morning. 

Trick Your Mind

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Light is critical to your body clock and circadian rhythm, so you need to be aware of avoiding bright lights at night time. Dim the lights at home, avoid bright screens and stay away from blue light. This will suppress melatonin, which is the hormone that regulates sleep.

If you struggle to get out of bed, specialised lamps such as the Lumie Bodyclock Starter and the Philips Sunrise Simulation Lamp are a good way to help you feel more alert in the morning. They brighten slowly to mimic the sunrise, waking you gradually rather than with a shocking alarm.

You can even set birdsong, to make you feel like you’re waking up in the countryside or a Disney movie. 

Stop Snoozing

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Resist the temptation to keep hitting snooze, as trying to squeeze in just five more minutes can actually make you feel more tired.

'You won’t get good quality sleep if you’re snoozing between alarms,' says Majende. 'If you’re consistently waking up to an alarm and you’re feeling groggy, it's much more beneficial to go to bed earlier instead.'

To break the snooze cycle, put your alarm clock on the other side of the room to ensure you get out of bed instantly and once you’re up, hop straight into the shower and make your bed to prevent you crawling back between the sheets. 

Looking for More Seasonal Inspiration?

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Relieve the stress of Christmas with our 24-day checklist to ensure your home is ready for the big day, and beat the winter blues with these happiness tips.
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