When do the clocks change

July 03, 2021

When do the clocks change

An extra hour in bed?


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.

Why do the clocks change?

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.


This idea didn't catch on everywhere, and over 130 countries around the world do not observe the twice-yearly clock change.

How can the clock-change affect my sleep?

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, and with a national clock change comes tampered sleep patterns. So, as the nations sleep experts we're not about to take this lying down.
With the next change coming in 138 days we're here with some top advice:

  • Morning brightness
Changing the clocks also changes how light it will be in the early morning. Using black-out blinds or thick curtains and a light-up alarm clock can help you to control your own sunrise, and keep your daily rhythm.
  • Exposure to sunlight
A time-change also signals the approach of summer or winter. While in the summer we all get lots of vitamin D from plenty of sunlight, in winter we can often struggle to catch any rays at all, leading to lower levels of vitamin D and 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.
  • Change your bedding
An essential way to keep a comfortable sleeping temperature is to change your bedding. Switching to a lighter duvet and anti-alergy bedding in the summer, and a warmer, thicker duvet in the winter will keep you comfortable and temperature-regulated for better sleep.
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
Many people start to experience this type of depression when the days become shorter. SAD affects around 1-in-15 people in the UK every year and we 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.
  • Adjust your heating

As the clocks change, and the seasons begin to change, you my need to adjust your central heating to maintain a comfortable sleeping temperature of 16-18 degrees Celsius. Remember to change the clock on your heating timer too.

  • Your comfort above all

Struggling against both a clock change and your bed is a recipe for a messed up routine and lost sleep. 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.