Have you ever had a terrible night's sleep? The next day feels long, miserable, and leaves you struggling to get by. Lack of sleep makes it hard to focus, stay organized, and make decisions. It can be a never-ending cycle of trying to catch up with your body.
More Americans than you’d think to struggle to get the recommended 7-8 hours per night. So, if you’re struggling to get on a schedule that allows you to get the sleep you need, you’re certainly not alone.
The truth is, sleep is so important to our physical and mental wellbeing. Along with water and regular exercise, it is an absolute must when it comes to feeling your best. But why does it seem like some people can thrive off 5 hours of sleep when you are struggling having got 6 or 7?
Different people require different self-care, but even if it seems someone can get by with less sleep, it’s usually not as it seems. Everyone has different schedules, priorities, and lifestyles, so try not to compare yourself to someone who sleeps less and has more energy.
Why is sleep so essential for good health?
In short, the way you sleep directly impacts how you feel when you're awake. A good night's sleep can completely help your brain health and emotional well-being. In young adults, sleep is essential for growth and development.
Restorative sleep allows your body to regenerate blood cells which in turn makes your immune system, heart, and brain stronger. If you are not getting enough sleep, you may find yourself getting sick more often.
Your body also needs sleep at the right time. If you sleep too often or at odd times, it can have negative effects on your energy levels.
Our body clock is designed to wake us when it's lighter out and make us feel sleepy when the sky turns dark. Let's talk more about our body clock and how it works.
The circadian rhythm is our body's natural sleep-wake cycle that occurs every 24 hours. It refers to any living being including plants, microbes, and animals, not just us humans.
Our circadian rhythm is a natural response to the light and dark of our environment, otherwise known as night and day. It's the internal process that affects our physical, mental, and behavioral changes.
Our circadian rhythm works closely with our biological clocks. In fact, our biological clocks regulate the way our circadian rhythms work. When you fall out of rhythm, it can be hard to get back on track.
Circadian rhythms can also affect hormone release, eating habits, and body temperature. In other words, allowing your circadian rhythm to tell you when to sleep and keeping the cycle regulated, helps a number of health concerns you may be struggling with.
Falling out of rhythm can be caused by a number of things. For example, jet lag, changes in our biological clock i.e. aging, even the light from our electronic devices can confuse our biological clocks and circadian rhythm.
Basically, your circadian rhythm is a natural response that helps you fall asleep. If you fall out of this natural sleep routine, it may be time to reset your sleep schedule so you can get back on track.
What is sleep deficiency?
Many adults suffer from sleep deficiency without even knowing. Sleep deficiency can make you feel very tired during the day. It can interfere with your daily tasks, work, school, etc.
If you tend to have a hard time with the following, you may want to ask yourself if your sleep needs resetting:
-controlling behavior and emotions
-staying awake while watching TV or reading
-coping with change
You may experience some of the above without even considering it has anything to do with your sleep schedule. In modern times, there are many myths out there surrounding the ability to over-achieve on very little sleep.
This simply is not the case. Eventually, the hours you miss per night will add up in what we've come to know as "sleep debt." Sleep debt can lead to mood swings, depression, and an overall decrease in your quality of life.
So, let's dive into the steps you can take to reset your sleep schedule and get your circadian rhythm working the way it should.
How To Reset Your Sleep Schedule
First things first, you have to want to create a consistent sleep schedule because it does take a little work. You have to first allow yourself the time to wind down and then allow for the proper amount of time you need.
In other words, if you know it's going to take some time for you to get sleepy, and you know you need at least 7 hours of sleep, go to bed with plenty of time to fall asleep depending on what time you need to wake in the morning.
Once you have the math figured out at how much time you need to dedicate to your sleep routine, you can begin to take these steps.
1. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day
The key to consistent sleep is training your body when to go to bed and when to wake up. The more you get used to a sleep routine, the more your natural circadian rhythm can do its job.
2. Try to keep the same schedule on weekends as weeknights
This can be easier said than done. Weekends are your time to let loose and sleep in, however, if you really want to regulate your sleep system, you'll need to hold off on the late weekend nights.
3. Give yourself an hour of quiet time before bed
Turn off the TV and put away your phone an hour before bed. You can enjoy this quiet time to read a book, a magazine, meditate, stretch, journal, or whatever makes you feel the most at peace.
4. Don't eat a big meal right before bed
Your metabolism naturally begins to slow when your biological clock reads it's getting late in the day. So, eating before bed has been known to be bad for weight gain and other health concerns.
However, studies lately have been showing that it really just depends on what your physical activity level is in the evening and if what you are eating is nutrient-dense or over-processed.
5. Avoid nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol
Nicotine and caffeine are stimulants, so if you want to relax and wind down for bed, you don't want to stimulate your system.
Alcohol is notorious for making you feel drowsy, however, when you actually fall asleep alcohol prevents the proper restorative sleep needed. Alcohol acts as a sedative that interacts with several neurotransmitter systems important in the regulation of sleep.
6. Spend time outdoors
Fresh air is almost always helpful to our biology. Your circadian clock is actually based on nature as your body wakes to natural light and gets sleepy when it gets dark. Our bodies, mind, and soul require a good amount of being outdoors for optimal health.
7. Daily physical activity
Our bodies were designed to be physically active each day. When you spend all day at a desk or sitting stationary, it can be hard on your body and builds up tension that will need to be released making it harder to wind down for bed.
8. Use relaxation tips before bed
There are plenty of ways to let your body relax, and most people have their own unique way of doing so. There are a number of apps that you can download to help guide you through a nighttime meditation, story, or relaxation routine you can indulge in hours before bed for better sleep.
Read our blog on relaxation tips for more.
9. Limit daily naps
Naps are perfectly healthy if you feel tired throughout the day. However, if you are napping too long or have trouble getting to sleep after a day nap, you may want to consider limiting your daily naps to 10-20 minutes max.
10. Avoid TV or computer screens before bed
At night, blue light from a TV, computer, or cell phone confuses our internal clock making our bodies think we need to stay awake.
Avoiding this blue light not only will help your circadian rhythm do its thing, but it will also allow for that quiet time that is also recommended for before bedtime.
11. Try a natural sleep supplement
To kickstart regulating your sleep routine, you may want to try a natural sleep supplement.
If you are used to staying up late, but hoping to start going to bed earlier, a sleep supplement can help you sleep when your body is not normally tired.
If you are struggling to sleep at night, it's always best to ask your doctor for advice. These are simple steps you can take to try to get a handle on resetting your sleep to create a new sleep schedule that will leave you feeling healthy and alert.
Summary: Create your perfect bedtime routine
Take these 11 steps into consideration when you begin to form your perfect bedtime routine. The best part about sleep is that it's your time to yourself and to nourish your body, mind, and soul.
If you're ready for a complete refresh in your sleeping patterns, start by giving yourself an hour before bed to complete your routine. Maybe run a hot bath, read 10-20 pages from a good book, turn on a meditation app, and allow your natural clock to let you drift off to sleep.
Again, if you have severe sleep deprivation issues, consult your doctor for potential advice diagnosis or treatment. Until then, consider an all-natural sleep supplement and the above tips to guide you into a night of healthy sleep.