- Does the time you go to bed and fall asleep vary wildly from one night to the next?
- Do you wake up in the middle of night and find yourself unable to fall back asleep?
- Are you always tired and groggy when you wake up?
- Do you struggle to wake up at the right times?
These are all signs and symptoms that your sleep schedule is out of sync with your natural bodily rhythm. This can be a source or sign of depression, a sign of sleep disorders, or just an ill advised all-nighter that got out of control.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Your internal clock, also known as your circadian rhythm, is built to allow you to sleep at a similar time each night and wake up predictably feeling refreshed and energized.
In this article are tips you need to fix your sleep schedule and get back into a healthy and energizing rhythm.
STEP 1: SETTING UP AN OPTIMAL ENVIRONMENT
To optimize your bedroom for sleep, you want to make sure the lighting and temperature of your bedroom are adjusted for sleep when it comes time to settle in. Get light blocking curtains and remove light-emitting alarm clocks and cell phones from your room. If possible, keep your phone outside your bedroom, or at least place it on sleep mode so that you are not disturbed.
A slightly cold temperature is conducive to sleep, so if you have an air conditioning unit, tune the temperature slightly downwards to ensure the room is a bit cooler.
STEP 2: FIXING YOUR DAYTIME HABITS TO ENSURE GOOD NIGHT-TIME SLEEP
What you do during the daytime has crucial impacts to your nighttime sleep quality.
The most important sleep inhibitor in many people’s lives is consuming coffee. Make a concerted effort to avoid caffeine after noon at the very least. Some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others, and for many, trouble falling asleep at night may entirely be due to coffee.
Another important step you can take to help you fall asleep at night is doing exercise during the day. It is not only good for maintaining a healthy weight and protecting health, but may help tire you out for a good night’s rest ahead.
Finally, managing stress during the day is helpful in fixing disruptions in your natural rhythm. Stress has been shown to worsen insomnia and using relaxation techniques, like yoga and breathing exercises to manage stress can create a more peaceful day and better subsequent sleep.
STEP 3: CREATING A SLEEP PROMOTING EVENING
For most people, the hours after work involve a combination of family, dinner, and plenty of screen time. While there’s nothing wrong with unwinding while reading a good e-Book on your tablet or watching some YouTube, the bright light that you’re exposing yourself too may be keeping you up for hours longer than healthy for a balanced sleep schedule. Electronic devices emit blue light, which heavily influences your circadian rhythm. Use real books or non-backlit e-readers. If you simply must use your phone or computer, install a blue light filter.
Try not to eat at least two hours before going to bed, drinking only water after you’ve had your last meal. Late-night snacking is fun, but the action of eating and digestion stimulates the body into a state of wakefulness and can be preventing you from falling asleep.
STEP 4: THE ULTIMATE BEDTIME ROUTINE
Best practices include putting down all electronics at least 1 hour before going to bed and doing only relaxing activities. Avoid eating anything, but feel free to have some caffeine-free and sugar-free beverages to help you unwind, such as warm milk.
STEP 5: A BRIGHT MORNING AND WAKING UP RIGHT
Having a good wakeup routine can help solidify your cycle. Being strict with your wakeup time and waking up routine can quickly remedy this and help you get on the right track
When you wake up, have a large and healthy breakfast. Include plenty of protein (at least 20 grams) and complex carbohydrates, and exclude sugar. This will help your body recognize that it’s time to wake up and give you a sense of energy and readiness to start the day.
Try to get some direct natural sunrays first thing in morning as well. This could be as simple as stepping outside your door or on your balcony for a few moments, or walking part of the way to work. Your body will release hormones that cause the sensation of wakefulness.
Resetting your sleep schedule isn’t going to be an overnight process. Stick to it, and eventually your body will learn from your habits and your cues that it’s time to go to bed. Eventually, you’ll just naturally fall asleep and wake up at the time you intend, feeling completely refreshed. Good luck, and sweet dreams!