With vacations, holidays and daylight savings time changes, sleep schedules can be hard to keep up with. You might find yourself lying awake at night, dreading the alarm that is set to go off in just a few hours. Luckily, there are ways to get yourself back on track. You can train your body to feel tired when it should, so you won’t have to keep hitting snooze and will feel well-rested in the morning.
Start small with the “Rule of 15”
Trying to force your body to fall asleep hours earlier in a single night can lead to a lot of tossing and turning. Start small by moving your bedtime 15 minutes earlier each night. If you stick to this routine, your body will adjust and you’ll be able to fall asleep an hour earlier after just 4 nights. Consider setting a reminder to hit the hay at the set time each night.
Turn down the lights
The arrival of electricity really threw our natural sleep cycles off. Now that we don’t need to rely on the sun for light, we can stay active throughout the night, staring at televisions, phones or computer screens. But bright lights like these disrupt our natural sleep rhythms and make it more difficult to fall asleep when you need to. To combat this, turn off unnecessary lights and all other lights to dim. Turn off your electronics and set your phone screen to night mode, if possible, to reduce the harsh blue light. You’ll want to do this at least an hour before bed time to give your body a chance to wind down.
Wake up with the light
Just as artificial light can keep you up at night, natural light in the morning can signal to your body that it’s time to start the day. Make waking up easier by opening your blinds and letting the sun wake you. The light works to naturally shut off your body’s melatonin production, eventually resetting your internal clock. If you don’t get natural light in your bedroom, or if you need to wake up before the sun rises, you can purchase a wake-up light alarm clock, which uses warm light to wake you gradually instead of a harsh alarm tone.
Get up at the same time each day
People often stress more about their bedtime than their wake-up time. Sleep experts say that it’s more important to wake up at the same time every morning than it is to go to bed at the same time each night. If you wake up at a consistent time, your body will get tired naturally in the evening and you won’t need to stress about it. Get your body used to the routine of rising each day at a set time and staying awake throughout the day. Bedtime will sort itself out!
Avoid sleeping in
It can be tempting to “catch up” on sleep over the weekend or on your days off, but sleeping in can erase the progress you’ve made toward establishing a healthy sleep schedule. You might wind up staring at the ceiling on Sunday night, cursing yourself for the self-sabotage. Try to avoid sleeping in for over an hour, and resist the urge to nap during the day. You”ll thank yourself on Monday morning!