Do you often wonder why you wake up at the same time every day, even when your alarm is off?
Well, your body follows a sleep-wake schedule or what is referred to as the circadian rhythm. The 24-hour cycle is like a body clock that rotates between sleep and wakefulness.
The internal clock gets cues from the environment and your behaviors which it uses to signal the body on when to sleep and wake up. For instance, let’s say you plan on pulling an all-nighter because you want to study for an exam. In this case, your body will get cues from your behavior that you’re trying to delay sleep. The body will then send signals to your internal clock so that it can reset your sleep schedule.
In the same way that your behavior can disrupt your sleep schedule, there are also things you can do to reset your circadian rhythm when it’s off. For instance, making your bed a haven for sleep by investing in soft satin bed sheets during summer can promote coolness and fix a sleep schedule that’s off.
Other strategies you can use to work your way back to a good circadian rhythm are explained below.
1. Let the Sunlight In
Daylight and darkness are key influencers of your body’s internal clock.
During the day, your brain stops producing the sleep hormone melatonin and signals the body to wake up and be alert.
On the other hand, exposure to darkness will signal the brain to produce melatonin and the body to get ready for bed.
If you’re having difficulties waking up in the morning, let the morning sun into your bedroom. The sunlight will act as a natural cue and let the body know it’s time to wake up.
Similarly, prepare your body for sleep in the evening by dimming or eliminating any artificial lights.
Engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day. Being active is good for your health, and it also regulates your sleep schedule.
However, avoid exercising just before bedtime. Exercise stimulates your body, and this can keep you awake at night.
If you must exercise in the evening, do it 2 or 3 hours before sleep.
3. Create a Relaxing Sleep Environment
Your sleep environment, including your bed, could be the reason why your sleep schedule is out of whack.
Always sleep in a dark and quiet bedroom. Bedroom temperature higher than 240C or lower than 120C can also keep you awake at night.
To remain cool while in bed, invest in seasonal bed linen. Luxurious satin sheets are great for hot weather as they’re cool to the touch, while fine cotton sheets are recommended in winter since they’re heavy.
4. Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol Before Bed
Avoid taking your coffee in the evenings as the stimulant will keep you awake. According to sleep experts, half of the caffeine you consume remains in your body six hours after the last sip.
Alcohol, too, is bad for your sleep cycle. Although alcohol makes you drowsier, it leads to poor quality sleep and frequent awakenings.
With this in mind, you should reduce your caffeine and alcohol consumption in the evenings and late afternoons.
5. Avoid Long Naps
Sometimes you may feel tired during the day and choose to take a nap.
Unfortunately, napping disrupts your body’s internal clock, making it difficult to fall asleep at night.
Long naps are especially detrimental to your sleep schedule, as they may signal your body that you’ve already had your good night sleep.
If you must nap, do it in the morning and limit your nap to between 20 and 30 minutes.
If your sleep schedule is off, try the above tips to fix it. If your sleep troubles persist, don’t hesitate to seek guidance from your doctor, as an undiagnosed sleep disorder may sometimes cause an out-of-track internal clock.