Do you go to bed at the same time every night? Do you get up at the same time every day? Do you go to sleep easily, sleep well, and wake refreshed? If you answer “No” to any of these questions, you probably need to fix your sleep schedule!
Your Sleep Schedule
“Sleep Schedule” refers to when you go to bed and wake up every day. Getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night (for adults) is just part of the equation when it comes to healthy sleep patterns and quality of sleep. It’s also very important that your sleep schedule is consistent, with only occasional exceptions.
It is easy for one’s sleep schedule to be disrupted or to become completely chaotic – due to:
- a new job
- having small children or a baby in the house
- a busy social calendar
- shift work
- sleeping during the day
Even just going to bed later and sleeping in on the weekends can be detrimental! Regardless of why your sleep schedule is out of whack, fixing it is important.
So, how to fix your sleep schedule?
What is a Good Sleep Schedule?
A good sleep schedule features consistent sleep and waking times to accommodate your lifestyle and your need for seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Ideally, most people will go to sleep around 10-11 in the evening and wake around 6.30-7.30 in the morning.
Early Birds may do better going to sleep at 9 pm and waking by 6 am; Night Owls might be at their best going to sleep around midnight or a little later and waking at 8-9 am.
However it works for you, a good sleep schedule requires that you get the ideal amount of good quality sleep for your individual health, well-being, and optimal functioning, in a timeframe that suits your lifestyle and commitments, and which is consistent night after night.
The Importance of Fixing Your Sleep Schedule
Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule offers many benefits for your health and well-being. No matter why you’ve found yourself in an unhealthy sleeping pattern, it is possible to hit the “reset” button.
Benefits of a good sleep schedule include:
- Easier to fall asleep at night
- Better sleep quality
- Waking more easily in the morning
- More daytime energy
- Better mood and focus
- Avoid obesity
- Improved general health, well-being, and quality of life
How to Fix Your Sleep Schedule
- Implement – and stick to – a regular bedtime and waking routine. Yes, even on the weekend! Work out what time you need to rise and shine in the morning and work backwards from there. Choose a bedtime to suit your individual needs in terms of sleeping time. Consider too, the time you need to wind down and whether you like to read (a book, not a phone or other backlit screen!) in bed just before sleeping and ensure you go to bed with time to do this and still achieve the hours of sleep you need.
- Consider Your Light Exposure. Light drives the internal body clock, and this regulates when you feel sleepy and wakeful. Early morning sunlight indicates that it’s time to be awake, while night-time darkness will drive sleepiness in most people. The blue light of a digital screen mimics sunlight, which is why it’s so important to…
- Avoid late-night screen time. Phones, tablets, and backlit e-readers impact your brain’s dopamine levels and this is the enemy of a good night’s rest. Switch off these devices at least an hour or two before bedtime. Do not have a television in your bedroom, either.
- Limit caffeine consumption throughout the day and avoid it after 4 pm. Some of us are more sensitive to the effects of caffeine, but it can certainly compromise the quality of sleep. Even if you can go to sleep easily after consuming caffeine, staying asleep and getting the required deep, restorative sleep you need may not be so easy. It’s not just coffee you need to consider, either, but also tea, cola, energy drinks, cocoa, and chocolate.
- Drink alcohol only moderately and limit alcohol consumption within a few hours of bedtime. Alcohol may make you feel sleepy, but it is not conducive to REM and deep sleep stages. You may also wake feeling much less than stellar the next day.
- Don’t eat a large meal late at night. Your body needs time to digest before bedtime and a heavy meal will not support a good night’s sleep.
- Exercise earlier in the day. Some people are at their best in the morning, some in the afternoon, and some in the evening. If you are an evening exerciser, make sure you finish working out at least a few hours before bedtime.
- Avoid using sedatives and other drugs. These are simply a band-aid solution for sleep problems and not only do they not address your sleep issues, but they can lead to drowsiness the next day.
- Avoid daytime napping – and if you must nap, ensure it is for a short period of no more than an hour only, and not later than mid-afternoon.
- Prioritise your bedroom for sleep. Use your bedroom only for sleep and sex – not for watching TV, working, or other recreation (reading is an exception). The room itself needs to be dark, quiet, and comfortable, with an ideal temperature of 18-20 degrees for optimal sleep. Your bed itself should be cosy and comfortable for your personal preferences.
- Implement a bedtime routine. This will ultimately subconsciously prepare your body and mind for sleep. It may include taking a warm bath or shower, listening to soft music, reading, or having a warm milk drink or a relaxing herbal tisane (e.g., chamomile, valerian, lavender, or passionflower). Do this each night at the same time, just before bed.
- Address snoring. Whether it’s yourself or your partner, snoring disrupts sleep and leads to daytime grogginess and a vast array of other negative consequences.
How Long Does It Take to Fix a Sleep Schedule?
It should take only a few days to reset your sleep schedule unless you are shifting dramatically (like into a different time zone). Change your sleep schedule gradually, by 15-30 minutes per day until you reach your ideal sleep timing. Getting natural sunlight exposure first thing in the morning after you wake is very helpful.
Get to Sleep and Stay Asleep with ApneaRx
Addressing and implementing strategies to overcome sleep apnea and snoring issues are important and help contribute to maintaining a healthy sleep schedule.
ApneaRx can help! A scientifically proven anti-snoring device, ApneaRx is a simple, non-invasive, comfortable and safe device that boasts a unique adjustment feature that gently moves the lower jaw forward during sleep.
This helps to open the airways and thus prevent or minimise the symptoms associated with mild to moderate sleep apnea and snoring.