Hibernation mode: Five small self-care adjustments to make before the clocks change

Hibernation Mode: Five Small Self-Care Adjustments To Make Before The Clocks Change
With the clocks set to change, and the evenings closing in, here are the little changes you can make to improve your mood
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By Imy Brighty-Potts, PA

With the clocks going back on October 29th, longer, darker nights are imminent – and many of us may be nervous about how this could impact our wellbeing.

But, there are some little acts of self-care that could help. Here’s how to switch up your self-care routine as the clocks change…


1. Spend more time outdoors

It may be getting colder, but time outside could be the best thing for you to protect your emotional welfare as the shorter days draw in.

“When the clocks change, the internal body clock, our circadian rhythm, has to reset and it can become out of sync with our standard night-and-day cycle. It can take a few days for our body to adjust to the new sleep pattern, which can affect our hormones and temperature,” explains Dr Harriet Leyland, clinical advisor at myGP.

To mitigate this, “spend more time outdoors”, she suggests. “Sunlight can alleviate drowsiness as it limits the release of melatonin, a hormone that induces tiredness and gets you ready for bed.”

person on walk

Jodie Relf, a Pilates instructor and registered dietitian, suggests making this part of your daytime routine.

“[Getting outside] can be more challenging once the clocks have changed, it’s often dark for many of us both going to and returning from work. Therefore trying to get outside during the day, at lunchtime, perhaps, can be beneficial in the winter months,” says Relf.

2. Think about your body temperature

You may be feeling the cold outside, but we don’t want to overheat indoors – especially at bedtime.


“We sleep better in a cooler environment, with the ideal bedroom temperature reported to be a cool 16-17C,” says Dr Guy Meadows, co-founder and clinical lead at Sleep School. “For best sleep, switch off the central heating and swap your lightweight summer duvet for a higher tog winter one. Alternatively, use a combination of sheets, quilts and blankets, as this allows you to more easily regulate your temperature at night for better sleep.”

3. Prepare for good sleep

If you always struggle with sleep when the clocks change, give yourself a helping hand by being prepared.

“Gradually adjust your bedtime in the few days leading up to the clocks changing – go to bed 15-30 minutes earlier each night for a few nights in the lead-up,” suggests Meadows, explaining this will help with the body-clock switch.

4. Eat a colourful plate

While you may just want stodgy comfort food to warm the chillier evenings, eating well is one of the best ways to support your overall wellbeing – aiding energy, immunity, mood and sleep.


balanced lunch

“Eat a balanced diet with a colourful variety of plant foods including fruits, vegetables and whole grains, as well as lean protein,” explains Dana Moinian, a psychotherapist at The Soke. “Avoid heavy or high-sugar meals close to bedtime.”

5. See friends

While social plans may have wound down compared with summer, hibernating and distancing yourself too much could be damaging to your wellbeing.


“Spend time with friends and loved ones,” says Moinian. “Socialising naturally boosts your mood and reduces stress levels.” So get the diary out and plan in some fun outings and get-togethers!

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