How Can You Adjust Your Sleep Routine?

Start adjusting your sleep routine by making consistency a priority. Habits and routines are powerful, precisely because they are repeated over and over again in order to create a pattern.

A key first step is to reset your sleep schedule. Pick a bedtime and wake-up time that you can stick with and that offer ample time for the sleep you need. Follow this schedule every day, even on weekends. It may take time to adjust to this new sleep schedule, which is normal. 

To gradually adopt a new sleep schedule, you can make adjustments in 15 or 30 minute increments over a series of days. You can also focus first on the wake-up time, creating one fixed part of your schedule, and then use good sleep hygiene habits to incrementally get used to falling asleep at your desired bedtime.

What Is the Ideal Time to Go to Bed and Wake Up?

There is no single ideal time for going to bed and waking up that is best for everyone. In general, in order to synchronize your circadian rhythm, it is recommended to wake up around the start of daylight hours and wind down and get ready for bed when it gets dark in the evening.

However, daylight hours can vary significantly based on geographic location and season, and for many people, it can be impractical to follow a sleep schedule that strictly mirrors the day-night cycle. For that reason, the general principles to follow are that your bedtime and wake-up time should:

  • Stay consistent from day-to-day
  • Allow for at least seven hours of sleep each night
  • Align as closely with day and night as your lifestyle allows 

Tips to Fix Your Sleep Schedule 

There are multiple elements that comprise a healthy sleep routine. Setting a consistent sleep schedule is a good foundation, but other steps can help you achieve the sleep you need.

Sleep hygiene plays an essential role in the effectiveness of your sleep routine. One fundamental part of sleep hygiene is ensuring that your daily habits and sleep environment are conducive to sleep.

  • Be mindful of light: Exposure to natural light in the morning can promote better synchronization of your internal clock, while keeping your lights on long into the evening can prevent your body from properly transitioning toward sleep. 
  • Cut down on evening screen time: Smartphones and other devices are sources of excess mental stimulation and emit blue light that can affect circadian timing. To avoid the negative effects of screen time on sleep, try not to use your phone, tablet, or laptop for at least an hour before bed.
  • Commit to physical activity: Regular exercise is good not only for your cardiovascular health, it also promotes healthy sleep. Even mild physical activity like going for a walk can be beneficial, and is a great opportunity to get daylight exposure. If opting for high-impact exercise, aim to finish workouts a couple hours before bed.
  • Have a bedtime routine: Try to follow the same steps each night before going to bed, such as dimming the lights, quietly reading or stretching, putting on pajamas, and brushing your teeth. Over time, those actions become cues that tell your body that it is time for sleep. To promote mental tranquility, incorporate relaxation methods such as meditation, yoga, listening to soothing music, or reading.
  • Be careful with naps: While naps can be restorative in some cases, they can also disrupt your sleep routine. As a general rule, try to keep naps under 30 minutes and only early in the afternoon to prevent nighttime sleep disruptions.
  • Limit alcohol and caffeine: Both alcohol and caffeine can be detrimental to a healthy sleep routine. Alcohol makes you sleepy but affects your sleep cycle, making you prone to awakenings and lower-quality sleep as the night goes on. Caffeine makes you wired and alert and can linger in your system, leading to restlessness at bedtime. It can be helpful to eliminate or reduce consumption of alcohol and caffeine, especially in the late afternoon and evening.
  • Cultivate an inviting sleep environment: A dark and quiet bedroom is best for promoting restful sleep. A cool yet comfortable temperature and soothing smells, like lavender, may promote relaxation and provide cues for sleep. You can also make your bedroom a haven for rest with a comfortable mattress, pillow, and bedding.
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