A lack of sleep can leave you feeling tired and sluggish. You might find that it’s hard to focus or stay motivated. Not getting enough sleep can also affect your health. Here is are some strategies to try if you are wondering how to fix your sleep schedule.
Understanding Your Circadian Rhythm
Your circadian rhythm is another term for your internal clock or your sleep/wake cycle. This cycle is a succession of periods of alertness and sleepiness. The purpose of the circadian rhythm is to help your brain and other systems function correctly.
Your brain regulates these periods of sleepiness and alertness by releasing melatonin. This hormone causes you to feel tired and eventually fall asleep.
Natural light and darkness influence your circadian rhythm. When nighttime falls, your brain responds by releasing melatonin.
If you have insomnia or unusual sleep patterns, your circadian rhythm might not be functioning correctly. Natural light and darkness might not cause your brain to release melatonin.
It's very easy to disrupt this cycle accidentally. Jet lag is a common cause of disruption, but not getting enough sleep or following irregular sleep patterns can disrupt this cycle. Your work schedule could be behind your difficulties with regulating your circadian cycle if you recently started a new job or work at night. Even sleeping in on the weekends can disrupt this cycle.
Some medical conditions can also disrupt this cycle. Schedule an appointment with your doctor to rule out any medical issues if you have insomnia.
Pay attention to the factors that seem to affect your circadian cycle. Everyone has a unique sequence, and your cycle can change throughout your life.
Improve Your Sleep Hygiene
Not being able to fall asleep at night or not feeling rested in the morning are sure signs that you need to make some changes to your sleep habits.
Start by eliminating or limiting naps. Taking naps during the day can boost your energy levels and make you more productive, but this habit can cause you to have a hard time falling asleep. If you need to take a nap, don’t sleep for more than 20 minutes. Try napping during the early afternoon to increase your energy levels, but don’t nap too close to bedtime.
If you find yourself tossing and turning in bed, get up for a while. Laying in bed without being able to sleep is a bad habit. Get up and go through your bedtime routine again or read for 30 minutes.
You should also avoid using your bed for anything other than sleeping. Find another spot for reading or watching TV. It will be easier to fall asleep at night if you associate your bed with sleep.
Avoid sleeping in, even if you feel that you need to catch up on some Zs. Sleeping in will prevent your natural sleep/wake cycle from kicking in. Try going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, even during the weekends.
It's also important to know how much sleep you need. Adults typically need between seven and eight hours of sleep. However, this number can vary from one person to another. You will know you have found the right amount when you wake up feeling rested.
Change Your Meal Times
Do you eat your meals at the same time every day? If not, adopting a regular schedule for your meals could have a positive impact on your sleep habits.
Research suggests that there is a connection between the circadian rhythm and food. Researchers believe that the brain releases melatonin when it’s dark outside because this signifies that there is no food available.
Snacking or eating a late dinner could disrupt this natural cycle. Try eating your dinner before night falls and get into the habit of eating at the same time every day. You should eat your breakfast and dinner 12 hours apart for a healthy circadian cycle.
Exposure To Light
Your brain stops producing melatonin when there is natural light. You should feel more alert and awake when you go outside, and get sleepy after spending some time in a dark room.
Be more mindful of lighting and how much natural light you get during the day. Try opening curtains or going outside when you first wake up to stop melatonin production and kickstart your day.
You should also avoid exposure to light before going to bed. If you work the night shift and sleep during the day, use curtains to reduce exposure to light once you get home.
Your brain reacts blue light from TVs, phones, and computer screen in a similar manner. Starring at your phone before going to bed or watching TV will prevent your brain from releasing melatonin.
Reduce your exposure to screens during the evening. Try taking a break from screens for at least two hours before going to bed.
Create The Right Environment For Sleeping
Your bedroom could be the reason why you have a hard time falling asleep or don’t feel rested in the morning. You need to create an environment that is relaxing and helps you go to sleep.
Use your bedroom only for sleeping. It’s best that you associate this area with sleeping.
Decluttering your bedroom could help create a more relaxing environment. You should also think about getting rid of the electronics you keep in your bedroom. Some new curtains will help create a dark environment.
The noise level in your bedroom is another important factor. Look for ways to reduce noise, or use a fan or white noise machine to cover them. Some people have a hard time falling asleep in a room that is too quiet. If this sounds like you, get a white noise machine or use a speaker to play some relaxing sounds.
You might have a hard time falling asleep because your bedroom is too warm. It's essential to be comfortable at night, but keep in mind that you can't fall asleep until your body temperature drops slightly.
Think about moving your bed to a different corner to reduce light or noises. If your mattress doesn’t feel comfortable anymore, replacing it will improve the quality of your sleep.
Details such as the texture of your sheet, the size of your pillow, and even your sleep posture can have an impact on how easy it is to go to sleep.
The décor and feel of your room can also determine whether or not it’s easy to relax before falling asleep. It’s important to create a space where you can feel safe and unwind. Think about painting your bedroom walls with a muted, pale, or pastel color to create this kind of relaxing atmosphere.
Are you getting enough exercise? Experts recommend getting at least 30 minutes of exercise five days a week. Aerobic exercises are the best way to stay in shape and improve the quality of your sleep if you don’t have much time to work out, but there are plenty of other options to explore.
Exercising regularly and staying active throughout the day will make you tired. It’s easier to go to sleep at night if you used up all your energy.
You will also find that being more active helps with stress and anxiety. If you stay up at night thinking about the things that cause stress in your life, exercising will make a huge difference.
You can work out in the morning or afternoon to boost your energy levels and feel tired when it's time to go to bed. It's fine to go for a stroll before bedtime, but avoid working out intensively late in the day.
Make Some Changes To Your Diet
Not getting enough sleep can cause you to crave carbs. A diet rich in carbs and other rich foods can negatively impact your energy levels and make it challenging to be active throughout the day. This lack of activity will, in turn, make it difficult to go to sleep.
If you are wondering how to fix your sleep schedule, look for ways to adopt a healthier diet. A well-balanced diet rich in whole grains, lean sources of proteins, and fruits and vegetables will improve your sleep quality.
You should avoid foods rich in fat, sodium, and sugar. These foods can cause your blood sugar levels to spike. Eating these foods during the day might not impact your sleep, but they can make it difficult to go to sleep.
Caffeine is something that can wreak havoc on your sleep schedule. Try limiting your caffeine consumption to a single cup of coffee in the morning, and keep in mind that some teas and sodas contain caffeine.
You should also avoid foods that will keep you up because they are difficult to digest or cause heartburn. Eating a large dinner can make it difficult to go to sleep, which is why you should eat reasonable portions and eat your dinner at least two hours before going to bed.
Some foods can help regulate melatonin production due to their Vitamin B content. These foods include:
Foods such as almonds, walnuts, kiwi, tart cherry juice and chamomile tea can improve your sleep quality as well.
Stick To A Bedtime Routine
You need to follow a bedtime routine. Routines help you feel safe and your brain will come to associate this routine with falling asleep.
You might not be able to go to sleep right away after completing your routine. It might take a while for your brain to get used to your bedtime routine and produce melatonin when you need to go to sleep. Keep following your bedtime routine even if you don’t see an improvement right away. It can take weeks or even months but you will eventually see a difference.
Try starting your routine and going to bed at the same time every night. Don’t make watching TV or scrolling on your phone a part of your routine. It’s fine to watch TV early in the evening to relax, but avoid screens as much as you can once you get closer to your bedtime.
Your bedtime routine could include eating a small and healthy snack, brushing your teeth, showering, reading, or journaling. Look for simple activities that help you relax.
Try Relaxation Techniques
Relaxation techniques are a great way to unwind at the end of a workday. You should give these techniques a try if stress is keeping you awake at night.
You can do some simple breathing exercises. These exercises help clear your mind and encourage you to focus on your body. Try inhaling for four seconds, holding your breath for seven seconds, and exhaling for eight. This breathing technique is common in yoga, but there are plenty of other breathing exercises you can use to focus and relax.
Progressive relaxation is another great way to get ready for bed. It can be difficult to fall asleep if there is tension in your body.
Progressive relaxation exercises require you to focus on one part of your body at a time. You can start with the tip of your toes and work your way up. Focus on each body part for a few seconds, breathe deeply, and release any tension.
Guided meditation exercises help you let go of stressful and negative thoughts. These exercises typically require you to visualize different landscapes or things you find relaxing. Mindfulness is another technique that can help you let go of your stress and focus on your body when it’s time to go to sleep.
You can do these exercises on your own or use audio instructions that will guide you through relaxation and meditation exercises.
If you’re wondering how to fix your sleep schedule, start identifying and eliminating the factors that are disrupting your circadian rhythm. Look for ways to create a more relaxing environment in your bedroom, make changes to your diet, exercise regularly, and try following a bedtime routine. These simple changes should make a huge difference in your sleep quality.