How to Fix Your Sleeping Schedule

Three Parts:Setting your Sleep ScheduleAdjusting Habits to Improve your SleepMaintaining your Sleep Schedule

If your sleep schedule is erratic, or just not where you want it to be, there are ways to get it back on track. In many cases, setting a pre-sleep routine, adjusting some daytime habits, and developing an awareness of your particular sleep needs will help. With a little planning, you can get to sleep easier, get the right amount of sleep, and wake feeling well-rested.

Part 1
Setting your Sleep Schedule

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    Review your sleep needs. If you are having trouble falling asleep, or staying asleep, ask yourself some initial questions: How much do I normally sleep? When do I normally sleep? Why do I think my sleep schedule needs adjustment? What sleep schedule would I like to follow? Answering these questions will help you begin to improve your situation.
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    Once you have decided on a sleep schedule, be consistent about following it. Try to go to sleep at the same time each night. Sometimes we can’t avoid schedule interruptions, but try not to stay up or sleep in much later than your scheduled times, even on weekends.[1] The more persistent you are about sticking to your schedule, the better your chance of improving your sleep.
    • This includes not hitting the snooze button. Although it can be tempting, snoozing a bit longer doesn’t really add to the quality of your sleep, and it disturbs your schedule.[2]
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    Gradually make any necessary adjustments to your sleep schedule. You should alter your sleep schedule over time in small increments to improve the chances that the changes will work.[3] For instance, if you have been going to sleep at 11:00, and decide that you want to go to sleep at 10:00, don’t jump back the whole hour on the first night. Instead, try going to bed for a few nights at 10:45, then a few at 10:30, then a few at 10:15, before hitting your goal of 10:00.
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    Keep a sleep journal. This can be as simple as jotting down a record of when you go to sleep and when you wake up each day.[4] Doing so while trying to decide on a sleep schedule can help you figure out your needs. Keeping one while you are trying to adjust your schedule helps you determine if it is working.
    • If you are trying to figure out how many hours of sleep you need, use the sleep journal entries from a period of a few weeks to find your average number of hours of sleep per night.

Part 2
Adjusting Habits to Improve your Sleep

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    Have the right food and drink at the right time. The food and drink you consume, and when you have it, can impact your sleep.[5] To get the best sleep you can, eat well throughout the day, starting with a healthy, balanced breakfast.
    • Don’t eat too much at night. Your last meal should be no less than 2 or 3 hours before your bedtime.[6]
    • Small, healthy snacks make the best choices if you need something before sleep.[7]
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    Avoid stimulants and depressants when trying to adjust your sleep schedule. The effects of coffee and other caffeinated products, nicotine, and other stimulants can last for hours, so avoid them later in the day.[8] And while depressants like alcohol can initially make you feel sleepy, they can actually disturb your sleep. [9]
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    Make sure you exercise. Regular exercise helps you fall asleep easier and achieve deeper sleep. Avoid exercising too close to bedtime (within a couple hours of it), however, as its stimulating effects might keep you awake.[10]
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    Monitor any naps. Long naps can interfere with your ability to get restful sleep. Limit any nap you take to a half-hour or less.[11]

Part 3
Maintaining your Sleep Schedule

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    Set a pre-sleep routine to achieve and maintain a regular sleep schedule. Doing the same things each night before you go to sleep will help mentally and physically prepare you for it.[12]
    • Your pre-sleep routine could incorporate a bath, reading a book, relaxing music, and other things that help you unwind.
    • Some people find it helpful to use aids to lessen outside distractions, like ear plugs, the white noise of a small fan, or soft, calming music.[13]
    • Whatever your routine, make sure that you are comfortable. For some, this means thinking about altering a mattress, pillow, bedding, etc.[14]
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    If you don’t fall asleep after fifteen minutes, do something else. If you are trying to fall asleep and still haven’t after a quarter of an hour, get up and do something that relaxes you until you feel tired again.[15][16] Tossing and turning while you’re not tired or have something on your mind will not get you to sleep.
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    Use light to your advantage. Your body naturally responds to lighting conditions and will adjust sleep accordingly. This means that getting plenty of light in the morning and during the day, then keeping the lights dim at night will help you sleep and wake up consistently.[17][18]
    • Turn on the lights or open the curtains as soon as you wake up.
    • Wearing sunglasses later in the day dims light, which can help you becomes sleepy.[19]
    • Avoid making television, computers, tablets, smartphones and similar devices part of your pre-sleep routine, as the light from electronic screens disrupts the body’s inclination to sleep.[20] Moreover, some research suggests that the distractions of screen-time interaction have a similar effect.[21]
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    Seek help if you can’t adjust your sleep schedule. If you have tried to fix your sleeping schedule and can’t, or if you feel that your schedule is extreme in some way, seek expert medical advice.[22]

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Categories: Better Sleeping