Given the busy work schedules, travel times, and modern lifestyles, fixing a proper sleep schedule is probably the hardest thing to do in today’s world. We try several things right from setting the alarm to putting it across the rooms to help fix our sleep schedule, but for most of us, it just doesn’t work.
In this article, you will learn how to fix a sleep schedule with some well-researched proven tips right from the expert’s book.
How Sleep Cycle Works
A sleep cycle is also known as Circadian Rhythm. During ideal conditions, this sleep cycle makes sure that you feel sleepy at the same time in the night and wake up at the same time in the morning every day. Apart from the sleep cycle, the Circadian rhythm also controls other functions in the body, like digestion and body temperature.
The suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) in the hypothalamus control the sleep cycle of humans. It keeps people synchronized to 24-hour cycles. Humans are regular, which means they naturally sleep when dark and awaken when it is light.
Common Causes of a Disturbed Sleep Cycle
With age, a person’s sleep requirement and overall sleep cycle change gradually.
However, few other causes that affect the sleep cycle are:
- School commitments of kids
- Jet lag
- A shift in work timings
- Medical conditions
- Artificial light
- Night shifts
If you ignore these sleep signals, you might face many difficulties returning to the normal sleep cycle.
Let us understand how to fix a broken sleep schedule.
How to Fix a Sleep Schedule
Here are the scientifically proven tips to fix your sleep schedule.
1. Follow a Set Routine
Sticking to a routine is probably the most challenging thing to do. Set a fixed time to go to bed, and try to go to bed at that particular time no matter what happens. Similarly, set up a wake-up time and wake up at a fixed time every day. Habituate your body with bedtime and wake-up rituals so that your body gets ready to wake up and sleep accordingly.
2. Start Mornings Bright
Waking up in a dark bedroom entices you to sleep more. It is because your internal sleep cycle doesn’t recognize it as daylight. Ensure that your bedroom has a decent light or sunshine through windows. You can also go outside to experience some sun. In case of a cloudy or foggy morning, try lighting up the room with bright LED lights.
3. Keep the Nights Dark
Here comes the most challenging part of all. We are surrounded by screens all day long, and nights are no exception, whether watching television, working on a laptop, or scrolling social media on our phones. We just can’t get rid of screens around us.
Try to eliminate the screen time before jumping onto the bed. It will eventually help you in improving your sleep schedule.
Fixing a sleep schedule is incomplete without exercise. Exercise tires you and takes out a lot of energy. Daily workout in the morning will set your whole day and make you sleep at night easily. However, avoid exercising near bedtime as it will impact your sleep schedule.
Still, if you want to do something physical before getting into bed, you can try a few yoga positions or stretching sessions.
5. Consume a Healthy Diet
Consuming heavy meals before getting into bed leads to acid reflux, indigestion, and heartburn, which may disrupt your sleep in the night and also disrupt your sleep schedule. Still, if you want to snack at night, consume a light snack that is rich in protein and low in carbohydrates and fats – fruits, vegetables, dry fruits, milk, cheese, etc., can have many health benefits without impacting your sleep.
6. Take Short Naps
Napping is perhaps our most favorite activity, and we cannot resist them at any cost. We recommend taking shorter naps of about 10-20 minutes. Longer naps of around 90 minutes signal our circadian rhythm that we have got enough sleep and face issues while falling asleep at night. On the other hand, shorter naps are good; they keep you rejuvenated, boost your productivity throughout the day, and also ensure deep sleep at night.
7. Reduce Caffeine Consumption
Some experts suggest eliminating caffeine consumption. Enjoying a sip of coffee in the morning or afternoon is good, but try not to consume caffeine at least five hours before bed.
8. Consider Melatonin
Melatonin is a natural hormone that induces sleep in humans. A melatonin dosage can help you to adjust to the new sleep schedule. However, you should consult a doctor before considering melatonin as an option.
9. Adjust to Jet Lags
Jetlags can be very irritating and can make a complete mess of your sleep schedule. Try setting your biological clock days before your departure date. Doing this will prepare you for the new time zone.
To put this in a practical example, assume that you’re going somewhere two hours ahead of your local time and go to bed an hour earlier each night for two successive nights.
10. Go Camping
When was the last time you camped? Take your tent, make time out of your busy schedules, and head in the lap of mother nature. Camping lets you experience calmness and reduces the artificial blue lights out of your lifestyle for a few days.
Camping adventures allow you to sleep in the dark, wake up amidst natural sunshine, and resets your sleep cycle perfectly.
How to Practice a Healthy Sleep Schedule
Create a Sleepy Environment
The temperature has a significant impact on your sleep. A boiling room can decrease sleep quality. Try cooling the room with the thermostat or other temperature controlling devices.
You can create a calm sleeping environment by using dim lights, keeping the electronic devices away, using soft and comfortable bedding, curtains, and wearing earplugs.
Relax in the Evening
According to sleep experts, Working or taking stress in the evening makes it more challenging to sleep at a suitable time. Try to relax in the evening by practicing meditation, or listening to slow music to calm the mind, or trying a relaxing activity, such as a reading book, before bedtime.
Check Your Nap Length
Avoiding naps can be challenging, but you can easily limit the length of your nap. Try to limit your nap length to 20 minutes and take a nap, preferably between 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Limit Caffeine Consumption
We all are obsessed with caffeine. But consuming excess caffeine can lead to disruptions in sleep rhythm. You can enjoy coffee during the daylight hours but avoid it within five hours of bedtime.
Stay Away from Digital Devices
The best way to reset a sleep schedule is to avoid the blue light from electronic devices; it interrupts the circadian rhythm. So, if you’re trying to get your cycle to run normally again, we recommend avoiding screens like mobiles, television, tablets, laptops, etc., within an hour before bed.
Tips for Better Sleep
By now, you might have understood how to fix a sleep schedule, but there is no point in setting a sleep routine and not getting good quality sleep. Here are some tips for better sleep.
- Maintain a consistent sleep schedule.
- Get the recommended hours of sleep.
- Adhere to your sleeping schedule even during weekends.
- Avoid naps longer than 20 minutes.
- Limit caffeine.
- Create a bedtime ritual.
- Avoid electronic screens before bed.
- Avoid stress before going to bed.
- Create a favorable sleeping environment in your bedroom.
- Avoid consuming heavy meals before bedtime.
The Final Word
Sleep plays a significant role in a healthy lifestyle. Our busy lifestyles can mess with our sleep schedule big time. However, following sleep tips can help you restore your sleep on track.
Hopefully, the scientifically proven tips above would help you get your sleep schedule back on track and make your life even healthier and productive.