5 Tips to Get Your Sleep Schedule Back on Track
It is probably fair to say that everyone’s regular schedule has been messed up in recent months. Between school closings, working from home, canceled activities, our daily organization has gotten pretty off track, and so has our nightly routine.
If you are one of the many who have been going to bed late, getting up late, and napping during the day, it is time to get back on schedule. As people head back to work, it is important that they are also getting the rest they need at night.
Time to Fix Your Bad Sleep Schedule? Here’s How…
Let’s talk about some ways that you can work to get yourself – and your family – back on a regular sleep schedule.
1. Set Your Bedtime
Here is a mathematical way to determine your ideal bedtime. The average sleep cycle is approximately 90 minutes long and people should have five of these cycles to feel fully rested. If we take 90 x 5, it equals 450 minutes. When divided by 60, it equals 7.5 hours. At this point, you can count back from your preferred wake-up time to find out what time you should be in bed. If that is too complicated, try this Bedtime Calculator.
As you adapt to the new schedule, you may need to tweak this bedtime slightly to find the right balance of nighttime rest and preparation time in the morning.
2. Be Realistic When Setting Expectations
Getting too attached to a set sleep schedule or worried about not being able to fall asleep can make the process even more difficult. Elevated stress and anxiety levels will work against you, so avoid getting too attached to a particular timeframe.
When you are working to get back to a regular bedtime, try to set realistic expectations. This will help you approach the transition with a tranquil mindset and set yourself up for success. It may help you to set some simple goals related to your personal definition of good-quality rest. For some people, progress is defined by how easily they get up in the morning; for others, it may be measured in daytime energy.
3. Make Gradual Changes
If you have the time, try to work towards your goal bedtime in gradual steps. Moving the time you lie down just 10 or 15 minutes earlier each day will make the transition smoother.
If you have difficulty falling asleep at the earlier bedtime, do not lie awake and fret about how you will feel when the alarm clock goes off in the morning. After lying in bed for 20 minutes, get up and read a book or do another activity that you find relaxing and try again later when you feel sleepy. This type of stimulus control is recommended for those struggling with insomnia as well.
4. Rest Your Mind
Before you can rest your body, you should actively work to rest your mind. Take the time to relax to help alleviate those racing thoughts that so many sleepless people struggle with. We recommend starting to wind down your brain at least 60 minutes before you want to actually fall asleep.
Start by turning off the news and avoiding other stressful media late in the evening. Step away from your computer, avoid work tasks, email, and stressful conversations. Then, decide on a screen-free bedtime routine. Because the blue light and stimulation produced by televisions and mobile devices disrupt healthy sleep cycles, it is best to switch to activities like reading, listening to calming music, or an easy-listening podcast.
5. Curate Your Sleep Environment
With social isolation and stay-at-home orders, we have been spending an unprecedented amount of time in our own houses. During this period, you may have started using your bedroom for more than just sleeping. Some have turned it into an office as they work remotely. For others, it has become a quiet place for their child to study and follow lessons online.
But now that you want to get back to a healthier routine, you should try to reserve the bedroom for sleeping and create an environment that promotes good sleep hygiene. This means ensuring that the space is cool, quiet, and dark and that you are surrounded by comfortable bedding. For example, some people, a weighted blanket can help them fall asleep easier.
Watch this short video for more advice on how to get your sleep schedule straightened out.
How Long Does It Take to Adjust Your Sleep Schedule?
The process of adjusting to an earlier sleep schedule may take some time. If you make gradual modifications, you should be feeling well-rested when your alarm goes off within 10 days to two weeks. The most important factor in success is consistency. You will be able to get back on track faster if you stick to the plan. Then, once you have reached your goal bedtime, be sure to maintain it. Aim for the same bedtime and wakeup time every day to avoid falling back into your night owl ways.
Related article: 10 Scientifically Proven Ways to Fall Asleep Faster.
Sleep Disorder Testing
Chronic daytime sleepiness may be a sign that you are dealing with more than an irregular routine. Talk to your doctor about your symptoms and ask for a referral for sleep disorder testing or contact Sleep Health Solutions online to set up a consultation.