Whether it is sleeping late during the weekends or holidays, suffering from jet lag, or, simply, having trouble sleeping one night, it is easy to mess up your sleeping schedule and even harder to get it back on track. Getting a good night's sleep is crucial for a healthy lifestyle. If you don't get enough of it, your body becomes sleep-deprived and you’ll struggle to have the energy and mental capacity for the days ahead.
Wondering where to start? Read our ultimate guide on how to fix your sleep schedule and improve your overall sleep hygiene.
How Your Sleep Schedule Works
Your body operates on an internal schedule called the circadian rhythm that relies on your brain to send signals that determine your sleep schedule. The circadian rhythm is often referred to as our body clock because it is the body’s innate timing device. Your body clock causes you to feel more energetic and alert during certain times of the day and more lethargic at other parts of the day.
Forcing your body to sleep or wake up at another time goes against your body’s internal clock, which makes it difficult to sync it back again. Just one day of disrupted sleep can play havoc with your entire sleeping schedule, resulting in tiredness, poor sleep quality and even health problems. This is why you should try to fix your sleeping schedule as soon as possible!
Reasons for Poor Sleep and Disrupted Sleep Schedules
There are many reasons for your sleep schedule to be disturbed. We list the most common ones below;
- Jet lag and different time zones
- Sleep disorders
- Shift work
- Poor sleeping environment
- Stress and anxiety
Fixing Your Sleep Schedule
Avoid Caffeine, Alcohol and Sugary Food in the Evening
Food such as caffeinated drinks, alcohol, foods high in saturated fats and sugary food or drinks can all send conflicting cues to your body clock. Once you’ve set a regular schedule, avoid smoking or drinking caffeinated drinks close to that time or at the end of your shift. These stimulants can cause a delay in your sleep and it’s best to avoid alcoholic beverages too. Although alcohol can send you to sleep, it causes disruptions during the night.
One of the main reasons why people aren't able to fall asleep is because of the stress and anxiety they feel when in bed! Making time for relaxation is proven to help you fall asleep faster. When you’re stressed or anxious, your body produces more cortisol, the stress hormone. The higher the cortisol, the more awake you feel.
Creating a relaxing bedtime ritual may reduce stress; focus on calming activities, such as yoga and meditation.
Make Your Sleeping Environment as Comfortable and Relaxing as Possible
- Avoid loud noises and if necessary invest in earplugs
- Sleep in a cool bedroom - between 15 to 19°C
- Invest in a comfortable mattress - old mattresses and pillows can cause aches and pains, making it difficult to get quality sleep
Avoid Napping throughout the Day
After a night of little sleep, it may be tempting to take a nap to feel less tired and catch up. Your body prefers long, consistent hours of sleep, so napping should be avoided. Instead, continue to stay up for the rest of the day until it is time for your normal bedtime - this is also key to curing jet lag.
Avoid Artificial or Bright Lights after the Sun Goes Down
Exposure to evening light can shift your body clock to a later schedule. You should limit your exposure to light at night because the more light you experience, the less melatonin you produce, thus keeping you up at night.
When possible, if you’re trying to go to sleep earlier, avoid bright and outdoor light close to bedtime (that includes light from phone, laptop and TV screens) and keep your surroundings dim at night. Set your phone to night mode about 30 minutes before you plan on going to sleep; this will filter out the blue light your phone screen is emitting and help you fall asleep quicker.
On the other hand, if you need to stay up, going outside and staying in bright places can keep you alert and awake.
Avoid Exercise Right Before your Bedtime
Exercise gets your heart rate pumping and your endorphins flowing. This means that your body is more alert. It takes a while after exercising for your body to calm down, even if you feel like you did a hard workout and should be exhausted. For this reason, try to exercise no sooner than 2 hours before you go to bed.
Falling Asleep and Waking Up around the Same Time Each Day (even at weekends!)
Being consistent is important in maintaining a functioning and healthy sleep schedule. Once you have reached a bedtime that works for you and a consistent wake-up time, don’t allow yourself to stray from it. Even one late night can ruin the progress you’ve made - predictability is key.
Aim for 7-8 hours of Sleep Per Night
To fully recover from a sleep deficit and to ensure you’re getting enough shut-eye each night, you need to sleep from seven to nine hours. Research has shown that these are the magic numbers to help improve longevity and make you live longer!
Make sure your sleeping environment isn’t the reason for your disrupted sleep schedule. Browse our collection of memory foam mattresses to find the perfect mattress for healthy sleep.