you fall asleep late and wake up shattered most of the week, resetting your sleep schedule is the best way to get back on track.
We all occasionally have trouble falling asleep, but it can interrupt our body clock when it happens frequently. A disrupted body clock gives rise to sleeping problems because your body can’t prepare for sleep.
Your body follows circadian rhythms (physical and mental changes that follow a 24-hour cycle), synchronised with a chemical-based master clock in the brain. When your circadian rhythm is out of sorts, your body clock ticks along abnormally, keeping you awake, when it should be helping you shut down.
The good news is you can reset your sleep schedule – but you must also make a few lifestyle changes to ensure it stays on track.
We’ve provided a three-step plan below.
Let’s jump in!
Step #1 – Go to bed at the same time every night
Even if you can’t sleep, lying in bed with your eyes closed induces a chemical reaction in your brain. It triggers the release of the sleep hormone melatonin and slows down your breathing, helping you adjust your body clock.
Going to bed at the same time every night also builds routine into your life, providing the much-needed structure that your sleep schedule lacks.
Step #2 – Wake up at the same time consistently
You can reset your body clock by forcing yourself to wake in the morning at the same time for three consecutive days. After three days, you will find yourself nodding off at a normal time and find it easier to wake up early.
Some people see better results after seven days when their body has fully adapted to waking up at a set time.
The trick is to wake up at the same time no matter what – never sleep in! You want to keep your body clock in a state of adaptation.
Step #3 – Make these five lifestyle changes
Going to bed and getting up at the same time every day will slowly reset your sleep schedule, but if you don’t make positive lifestyle changes, your schedule will probably suffer again, making you start over.
Here are the changes we recommend you make:
- Turn off your smartphone an hour before bedtime – there is no reason to have it on unless you need it in an emergency. Smartphones fuel anxiety and overstimulate the brain, making it harder to fall asleep.
- Manage blue light on devices – turning on blue light filters two hours before bedtime is good for your sleep. Blue light suppresses the release of the sleep hormone melatonin, impacting your body clock.
- Avoid caffeine six hours before bedtime – studies show that caffeine consumed up to six hours before bedtime significantly affects sleep quality and duration. So, if you go to bed at 21:00, avoid caffeine from 15:00.
- Exercise during the day – research shows that exercise can improve sleep quality and duration and reduce insomnia. Strength training is good an hour before bedtime because it releases a molecule called adenosis, making you feel drowsy.
- Don’t pull all-nighters -the idea that depriving yourself of sleep for one night so you’ll sleep like a rock the following night is a myth. Pulling an all-nighter will disrupt your body clock even further, so it shouldn’t be your strategy for better sleep. Instead, try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day.
Remember, time is on your side!
When you are struggling to sleep, the best thing you can do is be patient and let your body catch up with itself. After a few mornings of getting up at the same time, you’ll find that you feel tired at night and ready for bed.
If you enjoyed this article, read our article covering ten tips for better sleep in 2022.