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Adjusting Your Sleep Schedule

Simple Steps for Adjusting Your Sleep Schedule

  1. Make adjustments in increments. The best way to successfully shift your sleep cycle is to do it gradually, in 15-minute increments.
  2. Be consistent all week. The key to changing your sleep schedule is consistency. That means sticking to the same sleep and wake time throughout the week, including weekends.
  3. Keep your room dark at night and light in the morning. Our circadian rhythms are influenced by light and darkness.
  4. Get up if you can’t sleep. Don’t lie in bed tossing and turning, especially if you’re wired. Instead, get up and do something either boring or relaxing.
  5. Stop pressing the snooze button. While it might be rough to get up earlier, snoozing doesn’t help. In general it won’t be the best quality of sleep. Set your alarm to the time you actually want to wake up.
  6. Follow sleep hygiene rules. If you’re having trouble falling asleep, stop drinking caffeine within 12 hours of your bedtime or exercising within four to five hours. Give yourself an hour to unwind before bed. During that time, don’t do anything stressful or stimulating (such as use electronics).
  7. Fight after-dinner drowsiness. If you find yourself getting sleepy way before your bedtime, get off the couch and do something mildly stimulating to avoid falling asleep, such as washing the dishes, calling a friend, or getting clothes ready for the next day.
  8. Hungry at bedtime. For some people, a light snack before bed can help promote sleep. When you pair tryptophan-containing foods with carbohydrates, it may help calm the brain and allow you to sleep better. If you need a bedtime snack, try: half a turkey sandwich, small bowl of whole-grain, low-sugar cereal, granola with low-fat milk or yogurt, or a banana.
  9. Exercise Regularly You’ll also sleep more deeply if you exercise regularly. You don’t have to be a star athlete to reap the benefits—as little as 20 to 30 minutes of daily activity helps. And you don’t need to do all 30 minutes in one session. You can break it up into five minutes here, 10 minutes there, and still get the benefits.
  10. Exercise early. It’s no secret that exercise improves sleep and overall health. Morning exercise seems to affect body rhythms that affect sleep quality. One of the reasons for this interplay between exercise and sleep may be body temperature. Your body temp rises during exercise and takes up to 6 hours to drop back down to normal. Because cooler body temperatures are linked to better sleep, it’s important to give your body time to cool off before bed.
  11. Keep your slumber surroundings tranquil. Your bedroom should feel like a quiet sanctuary. Piles of clothes thrown on your bed, stacks of bills staring at you, or other random clutter will hamper you emotionally and may lead to sleep problems. A tranquil and organized space will help you feel more relaxed.
  12. Postpone worrying and brainstorming. If you wake during the night feeling anxious about something, make a brief note of it on paper and postpone worrying about it until the next day when you are fresh and it will be easier to resolve.
  13. Turn off the TV. In some people, nighttime light can hinder melatonin and create “social jetlag,” which mimics symptoms of having traveled several time zones.
  14. Stretch right before bed. Gentle stretching with deep breathing releases all the pent-up stress from the joints and muscles and makes it much easier for them to relax. Deep breathing helps calm and soothe the mind for getting to sleep faster and staying asleep longer.
  15. Meditation or progressive relaxation. Meditation is directing the mind to one focus, which can be shutting down and going to sleep, by focusing your intent you can make it happen. Progressive Relaxation is a process of mentally and physically working from your toes up and relaxing each muscle group with deep breathing. Each inhale the muscles tense and gather stress. Each exhale is a release of muscle tension.