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.