Late nights, early mornings and the consequences that come with a poor sleep routine, are enough to make anyone think about changing their sleep schedule. Long-term sleep deprivation can play a large role in the overall quality of your life and your health, so it’s vital to nip bad habits in the bud as soon as possible.
It takes various lifestyle changes and additions to effectively alter a sleep schedule; the very best of which have been highlighted in this guide. Read on to discover some of the tried and tested ways of adjusting your sleep schedule for better nights’ sleep in the long run.
1. Bring your bedtime forward in small increments
Research suggests that it’s much easier to push sleep back an hour or so than it is to bring forward so, if you’re hoping to get to sleep at an earlier time, it’s recommended that you move bedtime forward slowly over a long period.
Try to bring your bedtime forward by 15 minutes at the very most, on a daily basis. You might even find that 5 or 10 minute increments work better for you. Whilst it might sound pointless, over time, you’ll be able to settle into an earlier bedtime routine, thanks to the time invested in slowly pushing your bedtime forward in achievable segments.
2. Be strict with yourself, even on weekends
In order for your body to be able to fully adjust to the new sleep schedule, it’s vital that you don’t treat yourself to the occasional lie-in. As good as this may feel at the time, it will only prolong the time it takes to set your body clock into the routine you want. Choose your ideal wake up time, set an alarm and stick to it to get the best results in the quickest time.
Snoozing your alarm is also not advisable. Even though an additional 5 or 10 minutes of shut-eye might feel good at the time, snoozing will only prolong the inevitable and will leave you feeling groggier than you would have done waking up when your first alarm went off.
If you’re serious about adjusting your sleep schedule, be strict and stop yourself from falling for the lure of the lie-in.
3. Create a healthy sleep environment
To be able to fall asleep at the desired time every night, you need a relaxing environment. One that makes you look forward to going to sleep.
You can begin to create a healthy sleep environment by reducing the amount of tech and gadgets in the room. If possible, avoid having a TV, your phone or your laptop in your bedroom. Avoid being tempted to look at them or watch them when you’re trying to sleep. Studies have proven that looking at ‘blue light’ from screens close to bedtime prevents the brain from switching off.
You should also try to keep the space cool, at least an hour or so before bedtime. High temperatures will stop you sleeping and wake you during the night.
Next, think about what relaxes you personally. Perhaps soft music, a good book or even whale noises is the best way to send you off. If you’re sensitive to light, invest in blackout curtains or an eye mask. It’s important for you to create a space that physically and mentally relaxes you to feel comfortable enough to drift off as quickly as possible.
4. Develop a daytime routine to assist your sleep schedule
What you choose to do in the day can affect how well you stick to your intended sleep schedule. An erratic routine is much more likely to wreak havoc on your sleeping pattern than a solid routine. So try to establish a structure to your day, that you can follow most days throughout the week.
Your routine could involve eating your meals at a set time each day, limiting your caffeine intake to the morning and early afternoon, exercising at a certain time in the day, and even establishing a system that prepares you for bedtime.
Note that even if you are fairly immobile, getting some exercise each day will help you to sleep. Sleep is the bodies way of recovering from exercise, so try to exercise daily within your personal limitations. That could be as simple as walking up stairs instead of using a lift, walking to the shops and carrying shopping home, or a few stretches in your living room.
Developing a daytime routine takes time and you might have to try out a few elements before finding a system that works well for you. Eventually, you’ll find that your structured daily routine helps you to fall asleep at your desired time on a daily basis.
5. Move about instead of tossing and turning
Spending more than 20 minutes tossing, turning and trying to encourage yourself to fall asleep, will only play on your mind and leave you awake for longer. That’s why experts suggest that you get up and move about when you’re struggling to sleep at a certain time.
Why not meditate, complete a chore or go for a walk, to take the stress out of trying to sleep and to eventually go back to bed feeling ready to settle down for the night. This works as a middle ground for when you’re trying to adjust your sleep schedule but your body isn’t quite ready to do so. Note – don’t be tempted to switch on the TV. Remember that blue light will keep your brain buzzing. So will caffeine, so choose your bedtime drink carefully.
For more information concerning sleep quality and a healthy sleep schedule, feel free to get in touch with our team. We’d love you to participate in our National Sleep Study. One of the largest of its kind in the UK. Click here for the link to our Sleep Study application, which will tell you the average number of hours sleep you may be losing each day, week and year! You may be astounded by the results.