3 Easy Ways to Reset Your Sleep Schedule
We all know that creating and sticking to a regular sleep routine keeps your energy levels up,
helps you feel rested, and boosts your overall health. However, sometimes life throws us a curve, and we have to change our routines completely. If you suddenly switch from a 9-5 job to graveyard shift or bar hours, how do you adjust to a new, totally different sleep routine? Maybe there is a different reason for changing your routine like family or school. Either way, sometimes we need some help to get on track to catch those Zs.
Drastically changing your sleep schedule overnight can be difficult and even harmful. Think about how you respond after having jet lag or pulling an all-nighter. It seems like days or weeks before you’re back in your routine and feeling rested again.
There are, however, healthy ways to adjust your sleep schedule quickly that won’t put your mental and physical health through the wringer.
Whatever form your schedule takes, the body is always cycling through a wake/rest cycle, which lasts about 24 hours with 16 hours awake and 8 hours asleep. If you work a typical 6 to12 hour shift, that means that you have plenty of time to adjust your schedule and still get a full 8 hours.
These are a few ways to adjust your sleep schedule healthily:
Slow and Steady
Adjust your bedtime back or forward at 15-minute intervals in the days or weeks before you start your new schedule. Instead of just diving right in, this method takes a lot of time and effort, but it is the easiest way to get into your new routine; however, we don’t always have the luxury of being able to do it this way.
Light vs. Dark
You are probably more photosensitive than you realize. Overnight workers find that blackout curtains or sleep masks can trick the body into thinking it is night by minimizing the amount of light exposure. When waking up after the sun goes down, a light box that emits UV light can help you wake up and feel energized as if you were waking with the sun. As you get ready for bed, minimize your screen time, and begin to dim the lights around you. Go ahead and shut off the overhead light; leave a small lamp on your bedside. Instead of scrolling through your news feed in bed, try reading a chapter in a book.
The Power Nap is Powerful
Short naps during your day can give you a burst of energy when adjusting to your new schedule. We’re not saying to sleep on the job here, but haven’t we all grabbed a power nap on our lunch break before? The key is to keep the rest under 30 minutes. Ironically, it’s these short naps, as opposed to long naps, that give you the most significant boost to your energy.
Here are a few other things to help you get to sleep quickly:
- Take a bath to relax you before bed
- Listen to calming music
- Try an ASMR (sleep sounds) podcast
- Read a book
- Meditation and Mindfulness
- Focus on your breathing
- Do not look at your clock
If you try these techniques and tips, you’re sure to have a sleep schedule all set in time for your new routine.