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How To Fix Your Sleep Schedule

Fix your sleep schedule and internal sleep clock with these 13 tips.

Are you struggling with a poor sleep schedule? Issues with your sleep pattern can cause a wide range of health issues and this article will provide the answers on how to get back on track the right way. 

Sleep is a crucial element of your life. It is how your body recovers and rejuvenates from the stresses and indeed the challenges that you face through the day. A low level of sleep will begin to adversely impact your health in numerous ways. So, what can you do if you begin to face this issue? Well, there are numerous steps that you can consider here.

However, first, it’s important to understand your sleeping clock, how it works and the natural mechanisms that regulate your level of sleep. 

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Your Sleeping Clock Explained

The sleeping clock is also known as the circadian rhythm. Essentially, this is the natural internal system in the body that determines when you feel sleepy and when you feel wide awake. This runs throughout the full 24-hours. 

It is controlled by an area of the brain that responds to light and typically the natural light that you experience through the day. This is why most individuals will typically feel awake when the sun is shining and ready to fall asleep when it’s night time. The natural darkness triggers us to feel tired and get the rest that we need. 

Your circadian rhythm will cause you to feel more awake or more tired throughout the day. Usually, there is a strong desire to sleep between 1pm and 3pm. This is often referred to as the afternoon crash. Most people feel incredibly tired again between 2am and 4am but this will differ depending on the individual. It is possible to be a “morning person” and if that’s the case you are going to feel more awake through the early hours. Other people seem to function best in the evening. It is also possible for your body clock to shift as you age and it can be impacted by a wide range of outside factors too. 

During your teenage years, it was common to sleep for longer. Your body became used to this pattern or routine. You would go to bed later and wake up later too. Typically, as long as you follow the natural cues of your body, your circadian rhythm will stay on the right track. However, if you change your schedule, you can disrupt your body clock. If you don’t quickly correct the issue, then the effects can be long-lasting. You might find that you feel most awake through the night. 

Why does your sleep schedule shift?

Remember, your circadian rhythm is based on the amount of light that you receive throughout the day or night. So, if you receive less light through the day and more through the night, then this can throw off your sleeping pattern completely. That does include artificial light that you may be exposed to through the night. 

Alternatively, it’s possible to alter your sleeping pattern by passing through different time zones as well. This means that you are going to stay up later and ask your body to change based on the environment. 

It’s incredibly common for individuals who complete shiftwork to also experience issues here. For instance, you could be working overnight or you might be on the road through the evening. These people find it incredibly difficult to keep to a set sleep schedule because their body clock is running on a completely different pattern. 

If your body clock does fall out of alignment then this can be problematic. It can lead to a poor level of sleep and people who do not get enough sleep often struggle to function effectively through the day. Over an extended period, research also suggests that it can cause more dangerous health issues such as:

  • Sleep disorders
  • Obesity
  • Depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Diabetes

Indeed, doctors consider having a poor sleep schedule to be a sleep disorder. According to studies, 1% of adults have an advanced sleep phase disorder. This means that while they go to sleep quite early they also wake up before 5 am. 

Younger people tend to have the opposite issue which is known as delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS). They can go to bed incredibly late and wake up later too. Some studies suggest that this impacts about 15% of teenagers

Now, you know the issues that a lack of sleep can cause let’s explore how to correct the problem the right way.

1. Resetting Your Sleep Schedule

The first step is to ensure that you are trying to make an adjustment slowly. You can’t rush this process. If you do, you can run into other issues. According to some sleep experts, you should adjust it 15 minutes each night. You should work on changing your sleeping schedule over three to four nights and continue if things seem to be going well. But that’s just the beginning because you also need to get the best night of sleep possible.

2. Aim For A Quiet Sleep Environment

Sleeping in a quiet environment is always going to lead to a better night of rest. But this can be more challenging than most people realize. Hearing is the last sense that stops working before you fall asleep. This is why some people hear voices even when they are drifting off. If there are any loud noises in your room or even moderate noises they can wake you up. That’s why you should not fall asleep with the TV on.

3. Consider Sleep Hygiene Rules

If you are having issues, make sure that you think about sleep hygiene rules. Remember, your body doesn’t need caffeine. There are natural chemicals in your brain to help you stay awake or fall asleep. Caffeine can cause the production of these chemicals to be greatly reduced. 

You should also think about taking about an hour to unwind before you go to sleep. It’s important that you don’t do anything stressful or taxing during this time and instead relax.

4. Don't Stare At The Clock

Have you ever been stuck counting the hours pass by while trying to sleep? You’re not alone and looking at the clock can stop you from sleeping because it will often be a bright light. It can also have a psychological impact because you’re disappointed that you’re not asleep yet. The anxiety stops you from ever getting to sleep. 

As well as avoiding staring at the clock, it’s also important to ensure that you don’t just sit in bed doing nothing. If, within 30 minutes you still feel wide awake, consider getting up and trying a relaxing activity. This could include reading a book or listening to soft music that doesn’t get your heart pounding.

5. Don't Nap

While it might seem obvious, napping is going to disrupt any new routine that you are trying to create. Napping is always going to disrupt your circadian rhythm. Remember, most people do feel tired during the afternoon but they don’t nap. If you can’t resist the nap then make sure that you only take small naps. 20-minute naps can be useful and will help you function more effectively if you didn’t get a good night of sleep the day before.

6. Go Outside

As stated, natural light is the main trigger and force that controls your circadian rhythm. So, it does make sense to ensure that you are exposed to natural light through the day. Go out for a walk in the afternoon or morning to ensure that you are getting the right level of light. 

Don’t forget you also need to think about your light environment inside as well. Technology can completely disrupt our bodies’ understanding of light and dark environments. Don’t forget, in the past, there were no houses and no technology. Darkness meant it was night time and light meant it was the day. These days, tech allows us to stay up later surrounded by artificial light sources. This is why an hour before you go to sleep it can be useful to dim any lights around you. 

In the morning, when you wake up, you need to turn on the lights. Make sure that it’s a nice bright environment. It will ensure that your body knows it’s time to wake up and start the day.

7. Dodge The Snooze Button

Do make sure that you don’t rely on the snooze button. If you rely on this too heavily, then you won’t be getting a good level of sleep because you will constantly disrupt it. Instead, set it to when you want to get up.

8. Eat The Right Foods

You also need to make sure that you are eating the right foods. Certain foods do provide your body with chemicals that promote sleep. This includes foods high in chemicals such as:

  • Potassium
  • Melatonin
  • Magnesium

As well as helping you get to sleep, it also ensures that you won’t be moving around in bed a lot. You’ll get a better quality of rest if you consume foods such as turkey, salmon, bananas and chamomile tea.

9. Dodge Issues With Jetlag

Jet lag can obliterate your sleeping pattern because you are shifting when you should and shouldn’t go to sleep. It’s incredibly confusing for your body. One of the best ways to deal with this is to help your body adjust before you travel. Several days before, begin shifting your sleep pattern by a couple of hours. That way it won’t be the same shock to the system. The aim here will be to get as close as possible to the new time zone and do the same when it is time to return home. The way you adjust your sleeping pattern will depend largely on the direction that you’ll be traveling. Once you arrive in the new destination, make sure that you are adjusting to the time zone as quickly as possible. 

10. Get Into A Routine

It’s worth noting that a bedtime routine isn’t just going to be useful for children. It can be beneficial to adults as well. Going to bed at a typical or fixed point each night helps your body no when it’s time to sleep and when it’s time to wake up. It can take some time for your body to adjust to a routine like this but once it does you’ll find it a lot easier to fall asleep without any issues. 

11. Remember To Exercise

One of the reasons why some people struggle to fall asleep is that they are not staying active enough through the day. The easiest way to fix this issue is to make sure that you get into a regular exercise routine. Studies show exercise will help you slip into a sleep routine where you reach the deepest level of sleep. This is going to increase your sleep quality. 

12. Make Things Comfortable

You have probably heard of the benefits of a good mattress or bed to get to sleep. What you may not be aware of is that a mattress is not a ‘one size fits all’ product. While some people will benefit from a softer mattress, other people benefit more from a firmer mattress for their back. This is going to depend on your individual preferences. It’s why you should always test out new mattresses before you make a purchase. You may also find that different sheets and duvets can help you sleep more effectively, particularly if you get too hot through the night. 

13. Try To Relax

It can be frustrating if you are struggling to get the level of sleep you need at night and that’s understandable. But the more you feel anxious, the less likely you are to fall asleep. Try and clear your mind and if you still can’t fall asleep after a solid thirty minutes, try some breathing exercises. It’s important that you don’t become too tense, simply because you can’t close your eyes and drift off. 

Mistakes People Make

There are a couple of mistakes people make when trying to correct their sleeping pattern. The first is to pull an all-nighter. This can throw your sleep schedule off further. Instead, it’s far better to try and reach a typical sleep pattern. Other people attempt to function on less than the standard 7 to 9 hours. While this might be possible, settling into this for the long term can have a negative impact on your health.  We hope this helps you understand the best ways to get the great night of rest that you need.

 

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13 Natural Herbal Remedies

Cant, sleep? Let one of these following natural remedies help you doze off…

Have you ever spent your night tossing and turning, when everyone else in the house is sleeping soundly as a baby? Well, you are not alone. In fact, many of us end up working ourselves into an anxious frenzy, trying to get to sleep each night, just at the time when we should be the most relaxed. 

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Of course, once the dangerous cycle of trying too hard to nod off begins, it’s challenging to break. The good news is that natural sleep remedies can help you win the battle and drift off into a restful and refreshing sleep. Read on to find out what they are. 

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Melatonin

Made in the pineal gland Melatonin is the first all-natural remedy that could have you nodding off in no time. This is because it’s a hormone that is a vital part of the process that lets your body know when it’s time to go to sleep and when it’s time to wake up again. 

In fact, Melatonin doesn’t actually put your body to sleep. Still, it promotes relaxed wakefulness that makes getting to sleep a lot easier. It can also easily be taken by mouth and is often used as a for those suffering from short term sleep impairment like shift work or jet lag. Finally, Melatonin is widely regarded to be safe for short term use and not associated with habituation or dependence. 

Other advantages: Melatonin may help treat GERD and improve eye health.

Possible side effects: Some people experience things like dizziness, nausea and headaches when using this supplement.

Valerian Root

Another natural remedy you may wish to try if sleep is not coming as easily as you like is valerian Root. This is a plant that grows in many places, including North America. However, its natural home is in some areas of Asia and Europe. 

Valerian Root has long been used to treat issues such as insomnia. The reason being that it can help to reduce the time it takes to drop off to sleep. Something that anyone with a sleep problem knows can make all the difference. 

When taking Valerian Root its best to use a dose of 400-900mg, usually around two hours before you plan on going to sleep. Many users also report that they sleep better, as well as getting to sleep more easily when using Valerian Root. It is worth noting, however, that using Valerian Root is not a ‘one and done’ process. In fact, it may require a build-up in your system of around a month before you start to see the benefits. 

Other advantages: Minimised hot flashes associated with menopause. 

Possible side effects: Brain fog, heart palpitations, dry mouth and stomach problems.

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Lavender

Lavender is a flower that has long been held to aid sleep. In fact, it has been used for around 2500 years across the world for many purposes. Lavender was even considered to be holy at one time because of its delicately scented and cleansing properties. 

However, don’t let all that tradition fool you into thinking that using Lavender to aid sleep is just an old wives tale. After all, there are scientific studies that have shown it to be an incredibly useful sleep aid as well.

In fact, a journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2015 study, states that participants using Lavender before bed had reported better sleep than those practising only a sleep hygiene routine. Additionally, this study found that the use of Lavender in the evening before bed meant higher levels of energy in the day as well. 

Other advantages: Smells great, lowers blood pressure, helps relieve asthma. 

Possible side effects: Increased appetite, constipation, headaches.

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Passion flower

Passiflora Incarnata, Passion Flower, or Maypop as it is often known locally is sometimes treated as an invasive weed. However, those choosing to exterminate it are missing out on its vast medical uses. 

In particular, Passion Flower is known to be a useful sleep aid. In fact, in the United States, and Central and South America, it has been used this way since the 16th century. 

Fortunately, science can now explain why this flower helps promote a night of restful sleep. The first reason is that it binds to the GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) in the body, which promotes relaxation. Secondly, this process can help to quiet the mind, allowing the taker to much more easily get to sleep. 

Other advantages: reduces anxiety, can soothe drug withdrawal symptoms.  

Possible side effects: nausea, dizziness, drowsiness.

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CBD Oil

Before we discuss the sleep-related benefits of CBD oil, let’s first clear up some confusion. Yes, Cannabidiol is farmed from the Marijuana plant. However, the Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the stuff that produces a high is removed in the production process. What that means is CBD oil without THC will not get you high and therefore is safe to use as a natural remedy. 

What is in CBD oil is 100s of cannabinoids. These are chemical compounds that have beneficial properties for conditions such as pain, anxiety, and insomnia but are not psychoactive.  

In support of this are several studies. One of which showed that participants took less time to fall asleep than usual when using CBD oil. Even when sleep isn’t one of their main problems. Additionally, a second study showed that 160mg a day of CBD oil helped reduce the number of times patients woke in the night, as well as boosted their total sleep time. 

Other advantages: Heart health, reduces anxiety, reduces pain. 

Possible side effects: Nausea, diarrhea, mood changes

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Gaba (Gamma-Aminobutyric acid)

It’s easy to see why many people turn to γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) when sleep is a problem. The reason being that it was found to be at least 30% lower in those with insomnia than those without.

Of course, the body does naturally produce GABA because it helps both body and mind to calm down and relax, something that can help promote restful sleep. An effective dosage of the neurotransmitter GABA is around 100-200 mg for sleep issues. Although those that are taking it in a fat-soluble form (lipids) may require less for maximum effect. 

Anyone wishing to try GABA to improve their sleep will be happy to discover it is available in the UK and US as a food supplement. 

Other advantages: Lowers blood pressure, relieves anxiety.

Possible side effects: Can cause drowsiness, nausea and a burning throat

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Kava Kava

Harvested from the roots of the Piper Methysticum, Kava Kava is another substance whose sleep-promoting properties have long been known. In fact, in the islands of the Pacific Ocean, the “intoxicating pepper“ has been traditionally used for medicine and in social events. 

The active ingredients in Kava Kava that are of use to those struggling with sleep are known as Kava Pyrones. They have a very similar effect on the body and brain as alcohol does, creating a happy and relaxed feeling. Of course, as being happy and relaxed is the ideal way to be before you sleep off into sleep, its use for this purpose is also widespread. 

In particular, look for Heavy Kava, as this the right strain to take in the evenings. With others promoting calmness but also having an uplifting quality that could interfere with sleep. 

Other advantages: Pain relief, prevents seizures, relax muscles. 

Possible side effects: Headaches, dizziness & fatigue

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California poppy

Eschscholzia Californica, or as its more commonly known the California Poppy is another natural remedy that is used to promote sleep. Much like many of the supplements mentioned above the California Poppy is known to have an overall calming effect. Something that makes it suitable for those struggling to sleep and those struggling to manage their pain. 

The good news is that while effective, the California Poppy does not produce a euphoric reaction in users, making it safe to use on a daily basis. 

Native to western North America and Mexico, the California Poppy is accessible in most countries and sold in both tincture and capsule form. 

Other advantages: California Poppy can be helpful in anxiety and for excessive urination (making it excellent for children that wet the bed). 

Possible side effects: Drowsiness. It is also vital to avoid California Poppy if pregnant or breastfeeding.

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Chamomile

Likely, you have already sampled a cup or two of Chamomile tea, perhaps finding it easier to drift off to sleep after. However, what you probably didn’t realise is that the active ingredient that makes Chamomile so helpful for those struggling with sleep issues is the antioxidant Apigenin. This is important because it is the Apigenin that binds to particular brain receptors and helps to encourage sleep.

You’ll find Chamomile available in plenty of teas, often in a blend with other sleep-inducing herbs. You can also get capsules, tinctures and room sprays that can help ease you off into the land of nod as well.

Other advantages: Chamomile can be particularly useful for digestion. It is also known to aid the immune system. 

Possible side effects: Chamomile can cause an allergic reaction.

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5-HTP

5-HTP may sound like a scary chemical manufactured in a pharmaceutical plant. However, it is actually something that our bodies make naturally. In fact, 5-HTP is one of the foundational blocks for making serotonin, one of the body’s happy hormones and an essential chemical messenger that allows nerve cells to communicate. 

Of course, as problems such as weight gain anxiety and sleep disorders are also associated with low serotonin levels in the body, things that help boost these such as 5-HTP can be incredibly helpful. This explains the popularity of 5-HTP as a neutral supplement. One that most people choose to take in capsules. 

Other advantages: As well as aiding in sleep, 5-HTP can help alleviate fibromyalgia symptoms, reduce migraines and aid in weight loss.

Possible side effects: However, those with anxiety need to be aware that 5-HTP can cause it to increase. Additionally, 5-HTP has been linked to severe heart problems.

Magnolia Bark

While there are hundreds of types of magnolia trees worldwide, Magnolia Officinalis is the one that is most relevant here. This is because the Magnolia Officinalis or Houpo Magnolia, a plant most commonly found in China, is the one with properties known to improve sleep. 

It is the substances known as polyphenols, (honokiol and magnolol) that are present in Magnolia Bark that can help those suffering from insomnia get to sleep and sleep better through the night. 

Other advantages: Magnolia Bark is good for inflammation and pain, stress, anxiety, and overall brain health

Possible side effects: Some people taking Magnolia Bark report headaches & nausea. Others suggest that too much can cause drowsiness through the day.

St. Johns Wort

Hypericum perforatum or St. John’s Wort may also help those of us that struggle to sleep, come bedtime. This isn’t too surprising as St. John’s Wort has historically been used as a natural remedy for depression. 

At the current time, scientists are still unsure why the active ingredient in St John’s wort, Hypericum is so useful for promoting better sleep. One theory is that it works on the GABA receptors in the brains, which you will remember from above can help create a calm mind and body, perfect for improved sleep. 

Another is that Hypericum may work on the serotonin in the brain. Either making more or preventing so much of it being reabsorbed by the brain. A mechanism that is similar to that of antidepressant SSRIs. It is this increased amount of serotonin that is believed to promote sleep. 

Other advantages: St John’s Wort is also thought to be helpful for anxiety and depression. It can also be useful in fighting a viral infection. 

Possible side effects: Diarrhea, headache & dry mouth. Also, because of its similarity to SSRI, those taking them or similar drugs should avoid St John’s wort. Of course, if you are ever in any doubt be sure to consult your doctor before adding a new supplement or remedy to your routine.

Final Thoughts

In summary, if you are struggling with sleep, there are several herbal remedies for insomnia that could help. Of course, you must do your research on dosage and safety, as well as any possible interaction with other medications you are taking. 

Additionally, combining natural insomnia remedies with good sleep hygiene is likely to be the most effective way to achieve a long term improvement. 

How to Fall Asleep Fast

Some people have no problem falling asleep.  However, many others have a severe difficulty.  As a result, we’ve put together our best tips to fall asleep below.

Counting sheep not leading to sleep? We get it, climbing into bed and waiting hours to fall asleep is frustrating. When you are only able to get so many hours, it’s important to make them count. 

Luckily, there are plenty of science-based tips that are clinically proven to aid in falling asleep and achieving quality sleep. We’ve rounded them up so that you can be catching ZZZs in no time.

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1. All about the method

The military method: As described in the 1981 book, Relax and Win: Championship Performance a technique thought to be developed by the US Army to ensure soldiers could fall asleep in bunkers and be well-rested was utilized to fall asleep fast. 

Here’s how: 

  • Relax your facial muscles, including your jaw, tongue, and release the tension around your eyes and brow
  • Allow your shoulders to drop as low as they can go, followed by your upper and lower arm, one side at a time
  • Exhale, and follow with releasing tension throughout the rest of your body, picking up with your chest and continuing down muscle groups all the way to your toes
  • Take 10 seconds to clear your mind before picturing one of the three images: 
    1. Lying in a canoe on calm water with clear sky above you
    2. Lying in a black velvet hammock in a pitch-black room
    3. Say “don’t think, don’t think, don’t think” to yourself repeatedly for about 10 seconds 

The 4-7-8 method:  It’s a breathing exercise that helps when you feel stressed, overwhelmed, anxious, or just need to take a moment. All you have to do is inhale for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds then exhale for eight seconds. Repeat this a couple of times to lower your heart rate and blood pressure, helping you fall asleep more easily.

2. Don't try and fall asleep

It sounds counterintuitive, but a little reverse psychology can be surprisingly effective. Found to be ideal for insomnia disorder, paradoxical intention is where there is a profound preoccupation with sleep loss, sleep, and consequences surrounding sleep. A study conducted in Scotland found that tricking your brain to think you don’t want to sleep will allow your body and mind to relax and fall asleep faster than not applying any method.

 

3. Cool Down

Some feel relaxed by a warm bath or shower before bed. Not working for you? Immersing your face in ice cold water for up to 30 seconds triggers your Mammalian Dive Reflex, an involuntary reflex that lowers your heart rate and blood pressure. Not up for that task? Just splashing your face and running your hands under cool water for 30 seconds can ease racing thoughts and stimulate instantaneous calm.

 

4. Steer clear of sleep aids

Studies have shown that behavioral intentions to combat insomnia are successful at yielding desired sleep results and cost-effective. These robust behavioral intentions yield reliable long-term benefits in adults of all ages. 

5. Power of Sound

Sound has been shown to not just help you fall asleep quickly, but it also improves sleep architecture and your quality of sleep. There are tons of free apps and videos that have several sleep stories and guided meditation apps that will walk you through visual imagery and help you release tension in your body to get you drifting off to dreamland. 

White noise machines, apps and videos can be played and  feature a wide array of soothing sounds. Whether you prefer nature sounds, white noise, city sounds, or even the hum of fans or appliances, these free tools have something for everyone. 

Sound is effective to incorporate into your sleep routine, because eventually your body will be conditioned to trigger into sleep mode when you press play each night.

 

6. No Clock No Problem

As tempting as it may be, refrain from checking the time once you get in bed. Not only will you be exposing yourself to a bright light, but often checking the time only leads to feeling defeated that you have yet to fall asleep. This causes worry and anxiety to set when you ask yourself, how come I haven’t fallen asleep yet? 

 

7. The right mattress

Tossing and turning when you get into bed? If your mattress is more than 8-10 years old, it might be time for a new one. You may not have the right firmness and materials suited for your individual body type to achieve ideal sleep architecture while sleeping. Unsure if a mattress is the issue? Read our tell-tale signs that you need a new mattress.  The right mattress provides proper spinal alignment, so that you are supported and comforted all throughout the night. If you climb into bed and find you’re not comfortable, you might want to consider swapping out your mattress. 

 

8. When to see the doc

If you are struggling to fall asleep and stay asleep for prolonged periods of time, you may want to contact your doctor. Professional medical advice is always the best solution for being directed to identifying what you are struggling with so that you can be pointed quickly and accurately towards the correct solutions. 

 

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