Have you ever come home from a trip and haven’t been able to sleep well for days or weeks at a time? Or maybe your work schedule changed, and you can’t get used to the earlier wake-up time? Your sleep schedule is governed by your body’s natural circadian rhythms, which are basically your internal clock. This clock is responsible for telling your body when it’s time to sleep and wake up. But sometimes, our natural rhythms can get out of sync – and that’s when we start having trouble sleeping.
Sleepably is based in Denver and offers child and adult sleep coaching services to individuals nationwide who are ready to overcome their sleep challenges. Our mission is to help you get a good night’s sleep every night. If you struggle with insomnia or simply want to sleep better, we can help. Keep reading to learn some at-home tips for resetting your sleep schedule, and reach out to us if you need additional support.
What is a Circadian Rhythm?
First, it’s important to understand what a circadian rhythm is. Our bodies have an internal clock that regulates many of our biological processes – including our sleep patterns. This clock is called the circadian rhythm, and it’s controlled by a tiny region of the brain known as the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN).
The SCN is sensitive to light, and it uses this light information to keep our internal clock on track. When it starts getting dark outside, the SCN tells our body that it’s time to start producing the sleep hormone melatonin, which makes us feel sleepy. Then, when it starts getting light again in the morning, the SCN signals our body to stop producing melatonin and start releasing the hormone cortisol, which gives us energy and helps us wake up.
Our circadian rhythms are also influenced by lifestyle choices. For example, if we regularly stay up late and sleep in on weekends, our bodies can start to get out of sync. This is because when we change our sleep patterns on a regular basis, it confuses our internal clocks and makes it harder for them to adjust.
Why is Your Sleep Schedule Messed Up?
We’ve already mentioned that traveling across time zones and changing your sleep patterns can throw off your sleep schedule, but here are a couple of other things that can contribute to your sleep struggles:
- Shift work: If you work nights or irregular hours, it can be tough to get enough sleep. This is because your body’s natural circadian rhythms are designed for a regular sleep-wake cycle. When you have to work against your body’s natural rhythms, it can be difficult to get the rest you need.
- Stress: When we’re stressed, our bodies release the hormone cortisol. This hormone is designed to help us deal with short-term stress, but when we’re constantly stressed, it can keep us feeling alert and make it difficult to fall asleep.
- Age: As we age, our sleep patterns tend to change. Older adults often have trouble sleeping through the night and may wake up earlier than they’d like. This is because our bodies produce less melatonin as we age, which can make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep.
- Caffeine: Caffeine is a stimulant that can make it difficult to fall asleep. If you drink caffeine late in the day, it may keep you up at night.
- Alcohol: Although alcohol can make you feel sleepy, it actually disrupts your sleep and can make it difficult to stay asleep.
- Artificial light exposure: Exposure to artificial light in the evening, such as blue light from a phone or laptop, can disrupt your body’s natural circadian rhythms.
The Effects of a Bad Sleep Schedule
If you’ve ever experienced a bad sleep schedule, you know how difficult it can be to function. You may struggle to perform well at work or feel tired during the day but have trouble falling asleep. In addition to not feeling your best, poor sleep can put your safety at risk, especially if you commute or operate heavy machinery at work.
A bad sleep schedule can also lead to other health problems, such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. According to John Hopkins Medicine, poor sleep can increase your chance of developing dementia by 33%! This is why it’s important to address your sleep issues right away. There are steps that you can take on your own. But if home remedies aren’t helping, seek professional help from your doctor or a certified sleep coach.
Tips for Resetting Your Sleep Schedule
Most people have a regular sleep schedule, going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. But there are times when our sleep schedules get messed up, usually because of lifestyle changes or stress. When this happens, it can be difficult to get back on track.
If you’re having trouble resetting your sleep schedule, here are a few tips to help you get started:
1. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep.
Most people need around 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. Plan your bedtime and wake-up times accordingly.
2. Establish a routine and stick to it.
Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day helps regulate your body’s natural rhythm and makes it easier to fall asleep and wake up. If you can, take advantage of natural light by waking up with the sun.
3. Adjust your sleep schedule gradually.
If you need to change your bedtime or wake-up time, plan ahead. Adjust your schedule by 15 minutes every few days. If you suddenly start going to bed an hour or two earlier, your body won’t feel tired, and you’ll probably get frustrated, making it even harder to fall asleep.
3. Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed.
Caffeine acts as a stimulant, so it can keep you awake if you consume it in the late afternoon or evening. Alcohol makes you feel sleepy, but contributes to lower quality sleep and can cause you to wake up throughout the night.
4. Avoid working or using electronic devices in bed.
Exposure to light from cellphones and laptops can trick your body into thinking that you’re ready to start a new day. Try reading or meditating before bed instead.
5. Get some exercise during the day.
Exercise can help you relax and improve your sleep quality at night. Even just a brisk walk during the day could benefit your sleep cycle. Try to avoid exercise in the evening before bed though, since it can make you feel more awake and energized
6. Try relaxation techniques before bedtime.
Techniques like yoga, meditation, or deep breathing can help you relax and prepare for bedtime. Baths are also a great way to wind down before bed.
How Long Does it Take to Fix Your Sleep Schedule?
It depends on the person and the severity of their sleep issues. For some people, making small changes to their routine may be all that’s needed to reset their sleep schedule. In these cases, you’ll probably start feeling more rested in as little as two weeks. Others may need to seek professional help to get their sleep cycle back on track, which can take a month or two. Once you start sleeping better, it’s important to maintain the healthy sleep habits that you established to avoid future issues.
See the Benefits of a Regular Sleep Schedule with Sleepably
There are many benefits to having a regular sleep schedule. First, it helps regulate your body’s natural rhythm, making it easier to fall asleep and wake up. Second, it allows you to get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep per night, which is essential for good health. Third, it can improve your mood and cognitive function. Finally, it can help reduce stress levels. All of these factors contribute to a better overall quality of life.
If you haven’t been sleeping well lately and at-home remedies aren’t working, schedule a free consultation with Sleepably’s adult sleep coach. You deserve to see these benefits in your daily life and experience good health for years to come. Start sleeping better today!