According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 3 adults in the U.S. isn't getting enough sleep. Over time, sleep deprivation can seriously affect a person's mental and physical health. Despite this well-known fact, many people struggle with fixing their sleep schedule and don't even know where to begin.
If this is you, keep reading. Our step-by-step guide will walk you through resetting your sleep schedule to consistently get a good night's sleep.
Identify the Causes of Your Disrupted Sleep Schedule
The first step in fixing your sleep schedule is identifying the root cause. The first step in fixing your sleep schedule is identifying the root cause. Common factors include the following:
Bad sleep habits like eating before bed or exercising, napping, and drinking caffeine too late in the day can all get your sleep cycle out of whack.
External factors such as a work schedule that has you on the night shift or jet lag from travel can disrupt your sleep schedule.
Stress has a significant impact on your circadian rhythm. When stressed, your brain triggers a fight-or-flight response that releases hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, making it harder to fall asleep at night.
Once you know what’s disrupting your sleep cycle, you can start taking steps to get it back on track. The first step is to decide what time you want to go to sleep and what time you want to wake up.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all schedule for everyone. While you'll want to factor in seven to nine hours of sleep and stick as closely to day and night as possible, the most crucial factor will be staying consistent.
Gradually Adjust Your Bedtime
To ease yourself in, you can start adjusting your sleep-wake schedule in small increments of 15 to 30 minutes over a period. Or you can set a fixed wakeup time and gradually use good sleep habits until you start falling asleep at your goal bedtime .
Try not to hit the snooze button in the morning and follow your new schedule every day — even on the weekends. Be patient. New habits and routines take time to build but are powerful once they solidify into a pattern.
Create a Sleep-Friendly Environment
Transforming your bedroom into a calm area at night can also help you reset your sleep schedule. Here are a few tips on how to create a sleep-friendly environment.
Declutter and organize your room to help decrease stress.
Block outside noise with white noise machines, earplugs, or a box fan.
Reduce light exposure with blackout curtains or a sleep mask.
Once you’ve created a zen den, bedtime rituals help signal to your brain that it’s time to get ready for sleep. One of the most important routines you can implement is to turn off your electronics (phone, laptop, TV, etc.) at least an hour before bed, as research shows that blue light can disrupt your circadian rhythm.
Instead, use the time before bed to unwind by reading, stretching, meditating, and listening to calming music.
Manage your Exposure to Light Throughout the Day
According to the sleep experts at Healthline, being smart with your light exposure is one of the best ways to fix your sleep schedule. That’s because your brain stops making melatonin when exposed to light and starts again when it’s dark.
To take advantage of this natural cycle, try and get more natural light in the morning — open the curtains, sip coffee on the porch, or go for a walk. In the evenings, do the opposite — dim bright lights and close the curtains to prepare for sleep.
Get Regular Exercise and Maintain a Healthy Diet
Exercise can help you fix your sleep schedule by releasing endorphins that reduce stress and help you feel alert and energized during the day. Conversely, your body will be more tired and ready for rest in the evening. Just be sure to schedule your workout for earlier in the day.
Maintaining a healthy diet and drinking plenty of water throughout the day are essential in getting your circadian rhythm back in sync. Research has also shown that improving your eating habits by making simple changes, like upping your fruit and veggie intake, can reduce sleep apnea symptoms, which can also be detrimental to your sleep-wake cycle.
If you continue to experience significant sleep issues, it's time to talk to a doctor. There might be an underlying issue, like an undiagnosed sleep disorder, requiring specific medical treatment – such as cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia or continuous positive airway pressure therapy for sleep apnea.
How to Fix a Sleep Schedule - Final Thoughts
Once you’ve identified what’s disrupting your sleep schedule, you can start your journey of resetting it. This consists of sticking to a sleep-wake schedule, creating a sleep-friendly environment, and developing a relaxing bedtime routine. Managing your light exposure throughout the day, getting regular exercise, and eating a nutritious diet can also support your sleep cycle. Above all, staying consistent will be the most important factor in fixing your sleep schedule.
For sleepers suffering from medical issues and sleep disorders, it’s critical to seek medical advice immediately. From there, your doctor can find the right therapies and sleep aids to help you find relief.
At MedCline, we offer science-backed sleep solutions clinically proven to ease symptoms of chronic health issues and sleep disorders. Our patented line includes the following:
Colten, Harvey R., and Bruce M. Altevogt. "Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem." The National Academies Collection: Reports Funded by National Institutes of Health, 2006, https://doi.org/10.17226/11617.
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MedCline was founded in 2011 by Carl Melcher, M.D, who was a life-long sufferer of GERD. Dr. Melcher wanted to help the millions of GERD patients with a natural treatment alternative utilizing positional therapy. Since development, the Reflux Relief System has been validated in 7 clinical trials. Aiming to help other medical conditions with positional therapy, MedCline has also developed a Shoulder Relief System for those who suffer with chronic shoulder pain at night. Both MedCline Relief Systems are providing much-needed relief for those suffering from nocturnal acid reflux and/or nighttime shoulder pain to get quality, restorative sleep leading to a higher health-related quality of life.