You are probably aware by now that getting a good night’s rest is crucial to your physical, mental, and emotional health. However, although health officials are doing as much as they can to sound the alarm about how important sleep is, many adults are still not getting the recommended amount.
There is a good chance that you fall into this category as well. A number of adults suffer from one or more problems that disrupt their slumber. This, in turn, can lead to a whole host of other health issues as well.
Now, one of the reasons that you may be experiencing such issues is because your sleep cycle is out of sync. This could be for many different reasons including lifestyle and health. So, if you want to get your sleep schedule back on track, here is what you will need to start doing.
Track Your Natural Cycle
For a moment, think about the factors that dictate your sleep cycle. If you are like most people, it is your job, responsibilities, and social life that determine when you go to sleep and when you wake up. Well, what you may not realize, though, is that your biological sleep cycle doesn’t follow this schedule!
That’s right, each person has their own individual schedule. This is mainly governed by your circadian rhythm and associated biological processes. So, your body has a time when it is supposed to naturally go to sleep and naturally wake up. If you don’t know what this schedule is, then this could be the reason that you are finding it so difficult to adhere to your current schedule.
The good news is that you can change this rather easily by figuring out what your organic sleep cycle is. Now, the simplest way to do this is to get a device such as an Oura Ring. This piece of modern technology tracks your body’s stages of sleep. Thus, you will be able to figure out when your body is supposed to go to sleep and be roused. Then, you can change your bedtime (and waking time) accordingly.
If you don’t want to use technology, there is another option you can follow. This involves making a note of when you sleep and when you wake up without the aid of bedtimes or alarms. Of course, this method may not be nearly as accurate.
Reschedule Your Day
Once you have figured out when your body is naturally ready for sleep, then it becomes more evident when your bedtime should be. Similarly, since you need eight hours of sleep a day, you will be able to calculate what time you need to wake up as well.
Nonetheless, making these changes alone isn’t enough. After identifying these times, it is also important to reschedule the rest of your day to support them. For instance, let’s imagine you find out that you need to go to bed late and wake up rather late as well. Under these circumstances, you may need to take certain morning appointments and push them to the evenings.
This way, you will be able to sleep in a little longer. A good example is making breakfast and lunches for your family. If this is something you typically do in the morning, do all this prep work in the night instead. It will then be easier for you to adhere to your natural schedule.
Be Consistent with Your Changes
There are many people who have tried to change their sleep cycle and have given up within a few days’ time. This is because they don’t understand that making such a significant alteration to their body — and life — can take quite a while. After all, your body has to acclimatize to this transformation.
It can be difficult to know how long this adjustment period is actually going to last. Some people manage to get themselves on the right track within days. For others, it can take up to a month, even longer. The main takeaway here is that you should not give up what you are doing. Even though it may seem like your tactics aren’t working, it could be simply that you need to give your body more time.
So, avoid undoing all of your hard work and simply stick to your new schedule and habits. Eventually, you will be rewarded by getting the good night’s sleep that you desperately want.
Pay Attention to the Impact of Light
An earlier point mentioned how the circadian rhythm is responsible for our individual sleeping patterns. Well, the circadian rhythm is actually based on natural light. This means that this system uses sunlight to determine when you should wake up and when you should go to sleep.
What’s great is that you can actually use this to your benefit. When you wake up in the morning, throw open your curtains and expose yourself to as much sunlight as possible. In fact, this is something you should do throughout the day.
Do you work in an office where you are under fluorescent lights all day? Well, try to take short breaks where you can head out into the sunlight even just for a few minutes. This way, your body will know that it is daytime and that you should be awake.
However, as evening approaches, it is important to cut down on how much light you are exposed to. This includes blue light from computer, TV, and phone displays as well. Blue light can often mess with your circadian rhythm making it more difficult for you to fall asleep.
You may want to install dimmers in your home so that you can turn down the lights in the evening. Or, try to stay in a darkened room about an hour or so before you are meant to go to bed. This level of darkness will “inform” your circadian rhythm that it is time to start readying your body for bed.
Fight Daytime Drowsiness
If you aren’t getting the kind of sleep that you need at night, then you are bound to feel drowsy and out of it during the day. Naturally, it can seem like there is only one solution — a nap! Now, if you lay your head down at work, there is no need to feel guilty about it. According to a survey, it is estimated that half the workforce takes a nap during the day.
Now, while you may be waking up feeling refreshed and ready to work again, it is your naps that may be disrupting your sleep cycle in the first place. This is because it can reset your sleep cycle a bit, throwing your body off from its natural schedule. So, you may find it difficult to fall asleep at night.
On this note, if you can manage without a nap, try to do so. Sure, it may take your body some time to get used to you dozing off in the middle of the day. However, it will definitely help in the long run.
While naps aren’t ideal, it isn’t necessary for you to skip them altogether when you are really feeling tired. In this instance, try to make sure that your naps are less than 20 minutes — set an alarm. These short breaks have proven to be the best to help you feel refreshed. Not to mention, shorter naps don’t really interfere with your sleep later on. So, it is a win-win situation.
Exercise the Right Way
You may have heard that exercising more can help you to sleep better. Well, the stories are true — working out for at least 30 minutes a day can improve your sleep in no time at all. Therefore, this is something that you should try to do each and every day.
Despite the positive impact of exercise, you do need to be a bit careful about when it is that you work out during the day. When you exercise, two things happen — your body temperature rises and there is a flood of endorphins in your system.
Unfortunately, these things can cause your body to feel more alert. On top of that, you will feel the impact for a couple of hours after your workout. This is why it is important to exercise several hours before you go to sleep. Or, opt for a morning workout instead.
Quiet Your Mind
It isn’t just your body that needs to relax before you can sleep, your brain also needs to be quiet. Of course, as you are probably well aware, it is often at bedtime that your mind begins to race! Suddenly, you can’t stop thinking about embarrassing moments or pressing concerns. Either that or you are worried about the fact that you aren’t falling asleep.
If any of these things apply to you, it is time to learn how to quiet your mind. Teaching yourself how to meditate or following relaxation techniques can go a long way in helping to stop negative thoughts from keeping you up at night. If your anxieties just won’t quit, get out of bed and head to another room. Wait until you are feeling calmer and then try to go to sleep.
These are all excellent tips to reset your sleep cycle when it isn’t working well for you. Follow them and you are sure to notice a drastic difference in how you fall sleep.