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Night shifts, binge-watching series, social media, and traveling are some of the reasons our sleep schedules can get messed up. It’s fun to watch a series through the night, but not being able to fall asleep after affects our ability to function well the next day. For living a healthy life, it’s advisable to sleep at least 7 to 9 hours a day and that too at the same time every day. This is called a sleep schedule.
The best trick to fix a sleep schedule is to make a plan and stick to it. But what if you just can’t find the rhythm?
If you are wondering how to fix your sleep schedule or reset your body clock, then continue reading this article to set it right.
What Is a Sleep Schedule?
We are creatures of habit. When we repeat a sequence for some days, our body becomes used to it. The same goes for sleep.
Have you noticed the time you feel sleepy? It’s around the same time every night. You wake up at the same time in the morning without an alarm. The time we sleep and the time we wake up is our sleeping schedule, which varies from person to person.
But, how to change a sleep schedule if it isn’t working for you?
Don’t worry; shifting to a healthy sleeping schedule is not very difficult. If you consistently sleep early for a few days, your body will adapt to it. The tips that we will discuss in this blog will tell you how to fix a messed-up sleep schedule and how to reset your sleep cycle.
How Does a Sleep Clock Work?
Before we start solving the problem, let’s learn what the sleep clock is and how it works.
Our body has a master clock that controls the cycle of wakefulness and sleepiness; it is known as the sleep clock or the circadian rhythm. Your circadian rhythm tells you when you will feel alert or tired and at what time every day. This 24-hour cycle is located in a part of our brain called the Hypothalamus.
Your environment, genetics, and habits all influence your sleep cycle.
Our sleep clock is influenced by internal signals (hormones, genes, etc.) and external signals (sunrise, sunset, temperature). That brings us to the following question: how to reset the circadian rhythm?
10 Tips to Fix Your Sleep Schedule
The good news, you can get your sleep cycle back on track. Here are ten proven tips on how to reset your sleep schedule.
1. Regulate Exposure to Light
Light plays a vital role in manipulating your sleep. When you are in a well-lit environment, your brain does not produce the sleep hormone melatonin. As a consequence, you feel alert.
In the morning, open the curtains or go for a walk to feel more alert. At night, turn off the lights in your room. You can also use an eye mask if you cannot control the lights. Most importantly, avoid electronic devices like television, laptop, or mobile phones.
2. Engage in Physical Activities
Physical activity improves not only your cardiovascular or heart health but also your sleep quality. An intense exercise routine is not necessary, even mild exercises like walking will help you. Make sure you don’t exercise one hour before sleeping and try to have 30 minutes of physical activity at least five times a week.
3. Avoid Napping
Napping in the evening or for long hours can make it difficult for you to sleep at night. The ideal nap time and duration is before 3 PM for 30 minutes. If possible, avoid napping during the daytime.
4. Relax Yourself
Take out some time to relax. It can help you sleep better. It is hard to fall asleep at night when we are stressed.
You can try the following activities to calm your mind:
- Deep breathing
- Drinking chamomile tea
5. Create a Quiet Sleeping Environment
Dogs barking, phones beeping, and a movie playing in the background make it very difficult for the mind to relax and for you to fall asleep. To increase the quality of sleep, you must try to sleep in a quiet room.
Put your phone on silent mode. Move the TV out of your bedroom. If you live in a loud neighborhood, try listening to white noise or use earplugs.
6. Keep a Comfortable Temperature
Right before bedtime, your body temperature decreases to set yourself up for sleeping.
A cool temperature ( 60 and 67°F) will help you sleep better.
As per the National Institutes of Health study, the ideal room temperature for sleeping is around 65 degrees Fahrenheit or 18 degrees celsius. Your preferred temperature can differ slightly from the suggested temperature but remember that it plays a significant role in improving sleep quality.
7. Get Cozy
A crucial tip is to be comfortable. An old mattress or a pillow can cause body aches, making it difficult to sleep well. Usually, you should change your mattress every ten years. If your mattress is saggy and pillows are lumpy, it’s time to get the new ones. Invest in good-quality beds or look for hybrid mattresses to experience enhanced comfort.
Your eating time also affects your sleep cycle. A late dinner can delay your sleep. Consider eating two or three hours before sleeping so that your body gets enough time to digest the meal.
With eating on time, eating right is also essential. The best food for sleep includes a balanced mix of carbs and proteins. A heavy meal can take more time to digest.
Avoid caffeine and alcohol. These can disrupt your circadian rhythm. If possible, don’t consume caffeine after mid-afternoon.
9. Stick to a Routine
To build the best sleep schedule, it’s essential to follow a similar bedtime routine every day. Sleep and wake up at the same time and stick to that time every day, even on weekends.
By following a regular schedule or not changing sleep patterns, your internal body clock can develop a new routine. The first few days can be difficult, but you will sleep and wake up with ease after some days. It is the best way to reset a sleep schedule.
10. Visit a Doctor
Don’t panic if nothing works for you and still can’t go to sleep. Visiting a doctor may be the right answer sometimes. There are chances that you have an undiagnosed sleep disorder. If this is the case, a doctor will tell you how to fix a bad sleep schedule.
Why Do Sleep Schedules Get Off Track?
Our body clock is sensitive to light, sound, and our behavior. These factors can make our sleep cycle go out of track. Additionally, traveling to different time zones and changes in sleeping time makes it worse.
It can be problematic because a misaligned body clock and different sleep schedules can harm sleep quality. Moreover, over a long period, this can cause severe health problems like diabetes, sleep disorders, obesity, and more.
There are multiple reasons that your sleep schedules can go off track.
Jet lag occurs when you travel rapidly through multiple time zones. The body’s internal clock is different from the time at the travel destination which can disrupt your sleeping pattern.
People who work night shifts remain awake when it’s dark and sleep while the sun is up. This disrupts their natural sleep cycle.
Caffeine and Energy Drinks
Caffeine may help you feel active but can disturb your body’s natural ability to balance sleep and wakefulness.
Problems like stress, anxiety, depression, and others can make our brain active when it’s time to sleep.
Why Is a Good Sleep Routine Important?
For the best physical and mental health, people are advised to sleep at least 7 to 9 hours daily. A disturbed sleep routine leads to inconsistent sleep. It can make people switch between too much sleep and too little sleep. A good sleep routine will help you resolve these inconsistencies. A good sleep routine also helps you fall asleep quickly and improves the quality of sleep. Consequently, this allows you to live a healthy life.
How Long Does It Take to Adjust to a New Sleep Schedule?
The time needed to adjust to a new sleep schedule depends on the cause of sleep disturbance.
If the time zone is the reason, it will take one day per time zone. Although, if the trip was long, it might even take up to two weeks.
If you are suffering from an illness like DSPS, it depends on the length of your sleep patterns. It may take one to two months.
If you have delayed sleep phase syndrome, it’s not easy to change your sleep schedule but it is not impossible either. With proper discipline, you can set it right.
We have learned how to fix your sleep schedule and how to reset your internal clock by making small changes. Make a good sleeping routine, dim the lights, turn down the noise, get on the most comfortable bed, and get ready for a night full of deep sleep.
If nothing works, consult a doctor.
Want to know more deep sleep? Read our blog on how to get more deep sleep to wake up feeling refreshed.
Pulling an all-nighter does not develop a better sleep schedule. Without sleep, you will suffer from impaired thinking, and focus which may lead to severe accidents. Staying up to fix a sleep schedule is contrary to healthy sleep practices, and it is not advised to reset the clock unless necessarry.
It’s challenging, but yes, you can change your circadian rhythm. Here are the factors that can change your circadian rhythm.
- Jet lag or night shift.
- Light from electronic devices at night.
- Having caffeine in the night.
- Lack of exercise.
To fix sleep schedule for school:
- Sleep at the same time every night.
- Avoid naps.
- Avoid caffeine a few hours before bed.
- Limit exposure to screen time before bed.
- Avoid heavy meals at night.
To stop sleeping a lot, you can:
- Exercise regularly.
- Expose yourself to sunlight.
- Keep track of your sleep cycle.
If traveling through different time zones disturbed your sleep schedule, it can be fixed in a day. Take care of your exposure to light, sound, and eating habits to sleep better.