Humans love sleep patterns, with the body generally getting tired and waking up at around the same time every day- unless something is interfering with this. Many of us work hours that don’t fit in with a regular sleep schedule or might find sleep schedules changed due to stress, medication, or changes in the home life, such as a new baby. We’ve taken a look at ways to fix your sleep schedule, and how to reset your sleep cycle to improve your quality of life.
Downsides to a Poor Sleep Schedule
Broken sleep, lack of a deep sleep, and a regularly changing sleep schedule may lead to the following issues:
- Lack of focus
- Bad mood
- Poor appetite or overeating
- Weight gain
- Greater risk of heart disease and diabetes
What Is a Good Sleep Schedule?
Not everyone needs eight hours of sleep, and not everyone needs to go to sleep at 10 pm and wake up at 6 am. Individuals have differing sleep cycles, and the best sleep is experienced when you awaken near the end of one of these cycles.
A good sleep schedule isn’t about the quantity of sleep, but the quality. Promoting good quality sleep means trying to fall asleep and wake up at the same time every day, in an environment that allows you to sleep deeply.
How to Fix My Sleep Schedule
Understanding how to fix a sleep schedule means understanding what has happened to cause your sleep schedule to be thrown out in the first place. Reasons for poor sleep schedules include:
- Changing shift patterns
- Night shift work
- Parenting, e.g., nighttime baby feeding
- Delayed Sleep-Wake Phase Disorder (DSWPD)
- Jet lag
- Too much light when trying to sleep
- A noisy sleeping environment
- Stress, anxiety, or other mental health problems
How to Fix Sleep Schedule: DSWPD
DSWPD is a tricky condition to deal with, as it means that the body’s circadian rhythm is not in sync with their desired sleep times. What is the circadian rhythm? Circadian rhythm means the biological cycles your body goes through, including the urge to sleep at the same time roughly every 24 hours.
Delay Sleep-Wake Phase Disorder generally occurs in children and younger adults and means that they may not be able to sleep until hours past a practical bedtime, leaving them tired and groggy as they also have to wake up far earlier than their body wants to.
These “night owls” may suffer from the negative effects of a lack of sleep, including lack of focus, irritability, and even depression. DSWPD can be helped by having a consistent bedtime routine or shifting the bedtime either earlier or later in increments each night. Affected sufferers should also stick to their sleep schedule during vacation time to avoid slipping into bad sleep habits when not at school, college, or work.
How to Reset Sleep Schedule: Stress
Stress affects us all, but when it’s stopping your sleep, it can become a real problem. If you are not going to sleep for hours because you cannot stop worrying about something, you may need to try one of the following:
- Talk to someone- a friend or a counselor.
- Learn to meditate.
- Exercise more during the day (not right before bedtime).
- Consider supplements like melatonin.
- Speak to a doctor.
How to Reset Your Sleep Schedule: Shift Work
Working nights or changeable shifts can make it difficult to stick to a good sleep schedule. However, you may be able to figure out how to change sleep schedules to fit in around your working patterns. It’s a matter of being able to reset circadian rhythm: the biological impulses controlled by the hypothalamus in the brain. The circadian rhythm wants your body to sleep and wake at a certain time (approximately), but you can absolutely train your body to follow a different sleep pattern.
- Figure out a sleep and wake time that will fit in around your shift work. This might mean going to sleep at 1 pm and waking at 9 pm.
- Don’t pick a bedtime that’s immediately after you get home from work. You will be too wired, and your mind will be too busy to sleep, and you will set yourself up to fail. Take time to relax and unwind.
- Don’t pick a wake up time that means you are immediately rushing to get to work. This will make you resent your new sleep schedule and could make your sleep worse. Set aside enough time to eat a healthy breakfast (whatever time of day it is!), drink some water, and travel to work with as little stress as possible.
- Above all, be consistent. Sticking to this schedule should allow you to overrule your body’s natural rhythms, and still get the healthy sleep you deserve.
How to Fix Sleeping Schedule: Optimal Bedroom Environment
- See if your cell phone has a nighttime mode to reduce blue light, which keeps you awake.
- If sleeping through the day or in a brightly lit area, invest in thick curtains or blackout blinds.
- Keep it quiet in the bedroom, apart from any soft, soothing sounds, which may help you relax.
- Consider earplugs if you have a partner who snores or noisy neighbors.
- Make your bed- a smooth, comfy bed helps you sleep better than a lumpy, bedraggled one.
Getting to Sleep: Top Tips
One of the biggest challenges with resetting your sleep schedule is training your body to fall asleep at the same time every night. It needs to become a habit, but those first few nights can be tough, especially when your body is simply not used to feeling sleepy at this time. Here are a few ways you can help your body relax and be ready to sleep:
- Learn a relaxation technique like the pendulum method, a type of progressive muscular relaxation.
- Search YouTube for ASMR videos, which produce a tingling sensation in some people, which relaxes them and helps them sleep.
- Learn to meditate. There are plenty of smartphone apps that teach you how to meditate for five or ten minutes a day before bed to help clear the mind and reduce stress.
- Try listening to white noise or soothing sounds like rain or forest noises. Again, there are plenty of apps and even recordings on streaming services that provide these types of sounds.
Fixing your sleep schedule can seem like hard work at first, but if you stick to your new bedtime, get up at the same time every day where possible, and give yourself credit for every good night’s sleep you have, you’ll be feeling brighter, more focused, and healthier in a matter of weeks.
Fixing sleep schedules and patterns means helping your body return to a regular time to go to sleep and to wake up. Understanding how to reset circadian rhythm can help fix sleep schedules for a healthier body and a more focused and happy mind.