It might still be cold and dark outside, but sunsets are now getting later.
The end of 2020 included the longest days of the winter, with days getting lighter after the winter solstice.
We will be able to enjoy an additional hour of sunlight by the end of January, and every month thereafter until the Summer solstice.
When is the shortest day of the year?
Known as the Winter Solstice, the day with the shortest period of daylight was on 23 December 2020.
On this day, the UK received only 7 hours 49 minutes and 42 seconds of sunlight, starting with a 10.02am sunrise.
Since then, the days have been progressively longer but it won’t be until later in 2021 that you will really notice a difference.
The Winter Solstice largely marks the beginning of winter in the Northern hemisphere which means the coldest weather could be coming soon.
When will the days get longer?
The days get longer by an average of 2 minutes and 7 seconds every day after 21 December.
It won’t be until around 18 January that an extra hour of daylight will come, and every 28 days (four weeks) thereafter, an hour or so of sunshine should lighten the days.
The days will continue to get brighter until the Summer Solstice on 21 June 2021.
When will the clocks go forward?
It will get considerably lighter when the clocks go forward in the spring.
This will take place on 28 March 2021, adding an extra hour of sunlight to the hours when most people are awake.
The Spring equinox (beginning of Spring) will take place on 20 March.
How does the lack of daylight affect people?
A lack of sunlight in the winter months has been linked to a condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
According to the NHS, a lack of sunlight might stop a part of the brain called the hypothalamus working properly which may affect the production of melatonin, serotonin and the body’s internal clock.
This can lead to symptoms including anxiety, apathy, general discontent, loneliness, and sadness.
Some people who suffer from SAD can benefit from sitting by a therapy lamp, which replicates the natural light from the sun.
It is best to use it in the hours between waking and sunlight while you get ready, eat breakfast or work from home.
If you struggle to get up on dark mornings, a wake up light may make it easier. These give off an artificial light which mimics sunrise and allows your body to wake up more naturally, - as opposed to a noisy alarm.