Having an irregular sleep schedule can get in the way of your quality of life. It affects your daily activities when you’re supposed to be productive and yet you feel sleepy. Keeping a regular sleep schedule, even on weekends, maintains the timing of the body’s internal clock and can help you fall asleep and wake up more easily.
A regular sleep schedule is good for your health. Sleep influences immunity. Research has shown, you might remember, that people who sleep 6 hours or less each night are 4.2 times more likely to catch a common cold than those who sleep 8 hours a night. Obesity, diabetes, and high cholesterol are more prevalent among irregular sleepers.
Here are 7 ways to fix your sleep schedule.
1. Avoid naps
There is no better sleep than the one that finds you unawares. You’re at work or in school and suddenly you’re feeling sleepy. You’re watching TV and you drift into sleep. Naps can be good in that they may leave you feeling slightly more refreshed. However, they affect your sleep schedule.
If your sleep schedule is irregular, avoid naps during the day. Napping can make it difficult to go back to sleep at night. Long naps might also cause grogginess, which is the result of waking up from deep sleep. If you must nap, aim for less than 30 minutes.
2. Be strict about your schedule
If you are trying to fix an irregular sleep schedule, then you have to be strict with yourself. Sleep when you’re supposed to and by all means, do not snooze that alarm. Why? Forming a habit takes time, and it can also be relatively easy to break the habit. Once you have reached a workable bedtime and a consistent wake-up time, don’t allow yourself to stray from it. Even one late night can ruin the progress you’ve made. Predictability is key.
3. Avoid exposure to light when you’re about to sleep
In the world we live in today, it’s nearly impossible to imagine staying away from our electronic devices, even when you’re about to sleep. However, if you’re trying to fix your sleep schedule, then you definitely need to do it.
According to research published in June 2014 in the journal Photochemistry and Photobiology, exposure to evening light can shift your body clock to a later schedule. The trick is to eliminate these lights when it draws closer to bedtime and keep these devices out of the bedroom.
4. Do not sleep in
When it gets to the weekend, we tend to relax a little bit and spend some more time in bed. This is not a good thing if you’re trying to fix your sleep schedule, because you break a habit that you are trying to form. Whether it’s Sunday or your day off from work, do not sleep in. The clock in your head needs instructions. It needs to know your desired time to get up. The brain expects that people more or less wake up at the same time every day. The idea of weekends or travel across time zones is foreign to how the brain works. That’s what throws it off.
5. Exercise daily
Exercise is essential for all of us, but just like anything else, it requires consistency and discipline. You can kill two birds with one stone by exercising daily to fix your sleep schedule. Exercise naturally makes you tired, as it expels energy. There is one caveat, though. Avoid activity too close to bedtime, or it will make you extra alert, causing the onset of sleep to be a challenge.
6. Avoid noise when it’s close to your bedtime
When it’s almost time for you to go to bed, it’s important for you to avoid noise. This could be in form of music, TV, movies, or even conversations with people. A quiet sleeping environment is a must for a good night’s rest.
Your brain continues to process sounds, even as you snooze. Loud, distracting noises can make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep. To remove loud noises, keep your television out of the bedroom and turn it off before bedtime. Turn off your cell phone or use the “silent” setting.
7. Avoid eating too close to bedtime
Here’s another thing that you should do to fix your irregular sleep schedule. Do not go to bed right after eating. Avoid food too close to bedtime. Food can give you heartburn, which could keep you up. Watch out for caffeine and nicotine, both of which are stimulants and could hinder you from achieving a regular sleep schedule.
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