Just a simple interruption can throw your sleep schedule off, and efforts to fix it can prove to be quite a task. Sometimes it can be something as simple as watching a movie until past your bedtime or working for just a few more hours. Once you go to bed late, you will most probably wake up late and go to bed late or even if you go to bed at your normal time you might not fall asleep immediately. And, almost everyone has experienced this, so you’re not alone. Luckily, few steps can help you get your sleep schedule back on track.
Maintain a before bed routine
As noted above, simple activities such as watching or working past your bedtime can greatly affect your sleep schedule. To avoid this, maintain a routine. Always go to bed at the same time and also, always do the same activities before bed. This way, your body will know when it’s time for bed and will fall asleep accordingly.
Some of the activities that you can do before bed is like taking a warm shower or listen to certain type of music. If you do this every night before bed, your body will always know after this it’s supposed to fall asleep. Remember, we all have the circadian clock which is our internal scheduler, and it helps us fall asleep and wake up. And, if you use an alarm clock, set it to ring at the same time every morning rather than adjusting it according to what time you get in bed. This way, you ensure that you are waking up at a particular time every morning and your body will slowly adjust to the routine.
Keep your bedroom dark
One way to let your body know that it’s time to sleep is dimming the lights. And, don’t forget to switch off any screens or any other device that gives off blue light. By keeping the room dark, you ensure that your brain is not too alert and you fall asleep with ease.
Add some light to your mornings
If you slept late, you’re most likely to wake up late. Now, in your efforts to getting your sleep schedule back on track, you might realize that even if you force yourself to wake up at your normal time, you will remain sleepy and inactive for some time. To avoid this, make your mornings bright. Light is one way of telling your body’s clock that it’s time to wake up. When you wake up, turn on bright lights or go outside and take a walk in the sunshine. This way, you will be fully awake within no time and be able to reset your clock.
Exercise several times a week
Working out helps build muscle while trimming fats and this improves sleep. Studies show that people who work out, even if not every day, tend to sleep better than those who don’t. However, you must schedule your exercises and stick to the schedule.
You should, however, avoid high-intensity cardio late in the day as this can disrupt your sleep. Instead, the schedule for step classes and runs for early mornings/afternoons to ensure that they do not make it hard for you to fall asleep or maybe make you fall asleep before your normal bedtime. If you must exercise before bed, stretching does great especially if you remain seated most of the time.
Set up an eating schedule
Remember, your body organs that are responsible for digestion also follow a set routine, and they also have their own clocks and once you take your meals at the wrong time, say late at night, you will interfere with its rhythm and in turn, interfere with your sleep. Again, eating late results to your body storing more fat hence putting on some pounds. Ideally, you should take most of the calories during the day as this is when you’re most active and likely to burn them. A light meal will do for supper, and you’ll notice that you’ll sleep better.
Take a nap during the day
Most people end up sleeping late because they couldn’t finish the day’s work on time. To boost your energy, hence the rate of your productivity throughout the day, take a short night. Usually, taking a nap makes you feel refreshed, and you do more than you could have otherwise done.
However, keep the naps short, ideally, 20 minutes. Keep in mind that if you take a long nap, it might make it harder to sleep at the right time at night hence disrupting your sleep schedule. Also, maintain a nap routine.
Avoid colas or coffee before bed
If the coffee keeps you awake in the morning, then it will also keep you awake at night. If you must take coffee, let it be six hours before you go to bed to ensure that you fall asleep at the right time.
Some cases might need a special intervention for you to fix your sleep schedule. For example, if you have been traveling continually over different time zones, you are most likely to experience jet lag, and some sleeping pills could give a quick solution. Also, if you need to sleep early maybe because you have important errands to run in the morning, then you can opt for sleeping pills to put your body to sleep, earlier than your normal sleeping time.
However, sleeping pills should be taken in moderation and only when nothing else can help get your sleeping schedule back on track. They should only be for short-term use because long-term use could see you not being able to fall asleep until you take them.
- Also read: Melatonin Overdose
Change your schedule to the new time zone
One way to avoid jet lag is by adjusting your sleep schedule to the new time zone few days before the travel. You can opt to sleep few hours late and wake up a few hours earlier. This helps your body adjust to the next time zone, and you might not even need sleeping pills to cope.
Again, when traveling back home, repeat the adjusting schedule but in reverse and if you will crossing several time zones, ensure that you are giving your body at least one day to adjust to each time zone.
What’s your working shift like?
Some people work at night while others work during the day. Either way, you should have a single shift and stick to it. Most people who often switch from one shift to another have sleeping problems because their bodies do not know which routine to follow. The most important point is staying on the same work schedule, whether you work at night or day. Again, if you work overnight, remember to keep your eyes from absorbing too much light on your way home. You can wear your sunglasses as too much exposure to light keeps your brain alert for too long before finally falling asleep and this could either mean that you won’t sleep enough before your next shift or you will wake up late hence end up sleeping late the following morning.
Let your brain know that it’s time to sleep
Sometimes the brain could feel like an independent person from you, and this is when you tend to “talk” to it. You know how you go to bed and you start thinking about this and that and having all sorts of imaginations? Sometimes it takes telling your brain that “it’s time to sleep” to keep it from thinking and slowly falling asleep. At times, being in control of your brain might require practice, but you have the power to block everything and fall asleep.
Remain active during the day to fall asleep easily at night
If you are keen, you will notice that it’s easier to fall asleep when you have been active during the day than when you have been lazing around. Being active makes you tired, and your body yearns to get in bed and relax through a night’s sleep. On the other hand, if you were not as active throughout the day, you end up tossing and turning for a long time before falling asleep. If this happens, you can opt to get out of bed and do something else until you feel tired.
Get professional help
If every effort to fix your sleep schedule fails, the last resort is always getting professional help. There are centers dedicated to helping with sleep disorders and sleep physicians offer better help than self-medicating. This is especially critical if you’re in any job that can wreck your sleeping habits.
Proper sleep is important if you want to remain productive. However, sometimes sticking to a sleep routine could prove difficult because you can’t avoid traveling, changes in your working shift among others. However, there are effective tips, as mentioned above, that can help in getting your sleep schedule back on track. You should, however, avoid anything that could interrupt your sleep schedule unnecessarily, for example, taking coffee before bed or staying up till late while doing nothing of importance.
Remember, you are not alone in this, in fact, a huge percent of people struggle with maintaining a regular sleep schedule and most of the time you will hear them say that it’s just impossible. The first step is understanding how long you need to sleep without feeling like you are forcing yourself to wake up then plan your day/night activities accordingly to ensure that you get enough sleep then gradually work towards sleeping and waking up at the same time.