Fixing a Broken Sleep Schedule
Did you know that if you make a resolution in August, you’re the most likely to stick to it? Sure, everyone seems to ditch the new years plans by February, but making a change at the end of summer can be easier to keep. Looking ahead to a busy fall and trying to squeeze the last bit of summer fun into your schedule, why not make a resolution to fix your sleep habits?
People often say that they wish they could get more sleep. We’ve previously discussed why that’s important, and how much sleep you really need to be bright and happy, but how do you go about fixing your sleep schedule when it’s broken? Let’s take a look at a few things to consider as you plan your new night and morning habits, and we’ll throw in some handy tips on how to reach that better night’s sleep.
Your Evening Routine
What you do at night before you go to bed can have a big effect on when you nod off and how well you sleep. Most people know how much caffeine will interrupt their night and when they should stop drinking it, but take a close look at your schedule if you’re finding it hard to settle down at night. Maybe that afternoon coffee is giving you some energy longer than you think.
Are there other foods and drinks to avoid in the evening? Yes. Many people find that spicy foods can affect their quality of sleep, or cause indigestion and discomfort that keep them awake. Alcohol is also a typical culprit of poor sleep.
Having a late dinner may interfere with your internal clock as well. With all of our commitments and not enough hours in the day, it’s easy to push dinner later into the evening with preparation and cook time, but try to keep dinner at a reasonable hour. Eating too late might make it harder to sleep, and you should allow time to digest food before lying flat in order to prevent indigestion and heartburn.
Do you find that you linger on the couch or in the kitchen when you know you should be in bed? Try this tip: set a bedtime alarm. A little reminder can go a long way. If it helps, put an alarm in your phone for 20 minutes before when you want to go to bed and use that time to wind down. Get tomorrow’s outfit ready, start the dishwasher, or do that last little bit of chores before heading to bed.
Go to bed at the same time every night. It’s easy to throw off several days of sleep by staying up entirely too late over the weekend, thinking you’ll just sleep later the next day. Don’t mess up your ability to fall asleep Sunday night by staying up too late Friday and Saturday.
Are you guilty of screen time in bed? Computers, TV, and other devices have been found to keep us up later and make it harder to fall asleep. Most experts agree that settling down with a book before bed is much better than looking at a device. Not much of a reader? Try listening to a book on tape or a podcast.
Your Morning Routine
It’s crucial to set yourself up for a good night with a consistent evening routine, but making sure you have a wakeful and consistent morning routine will also help you feel energized during the day.
First, check out your alarm clock. Does it do the job? Many people use their smartphones as an alarm, but dead batteries and volume settings can be an issue if you don’t set your alarm right. On the bright side, many smartphone alarm clock apps have built-in features to rouse the heavy sleeper. Are you difficult to wake up? Chronic snoozers can get an app that makes you solve puzzles and answer questions correctly before it shuts off, increasing the likelihood that you’ll wake up all the way and stop snoozing.
Speaking of snooze, multiple snoozes can mess up your day. Studies show that snoozing leads to feeling more tired later in the day, and getting an overall poorer quality of sleep. When you doze for a few minutes, your body starts getting into a new sleep cycle. Waking up repeatedly makes you groggy, which can be hard to shake. Some studies show that the grogginess from snoozing can last as long as 90 minutes! You’re better off going to bed a little sooner and then getting up at your first alarm.
As far as “regular” alarm clocks, the new versions are filled with options that are anything but traditional. Rolling alarm clocks are truly for the relentless snoozer who actually needs to be drawn out of bed in order to wake up. Other more gentle options emit light similar to the sun rising, and play soothing noises at an increasing volume to help you wake up slowly.
Get up at the same time every morning. Sleeping in on Saturday sure sounds like a good idea, but when you are not tired Sunday night because you’ve spent the weekend sleeping in and staying up late, you will not be happy!
Have you ever heard that you should avoid exercising at night because it can interfere with sleep? It turns out this may not be true. A study in Sleep Medicine based on the 2013 National Sleep Foundation Sleep in America Poll found that participants who exercised at night reported no negative effects on their quality of sleep. The catch? People who work out in the morning still report the best sleep. Adding a workout to your morning routine should help you sleep well and have energy all day. Whenever you can work out, try to get some exercise. There are big benefits to moderate exercise, including deeper sleep.
If you set yourself up for a restful night with a predictable evening and a cheery morning, but you’re still waking up tired, it might be time for a new mattress. Talk to your doctor if you’re concerned about your energy levels, but talk to Jonathan Stevens if your old mattress just isn’t cutting it. We’ll help you find the perfect mattress for your sleep oasis.