Your nightly habits before bed and your natural circadian rhythm really dictate your sleep schedule. Sometimes our healthy sleeping schedule can get off track. Whether it’s because you just had a baby, or you slept in all summer, it is time to get your sleep back on track.
Most sleepers within the United States have a predominately monophasic sleep pattern (meaning you only sleep once a day for around 8 hours) This sleeping pattern usually coincides with circadian rhythms of rising with the sun and sleeping at night.
When you get into this type of repeated pattern, your internal clock will sync up with that pattern and will release different hormones to wake you up and put you to sleep at those times.
If your sleeping schedule gets repeatedly interrupted by shifting schedules or sleeping in, this can confuse your internal clock and make it difficult for your body to know when to go to sleep and when to wake up.
This is why having a set sleeping schedule can be so beneficial. It can help you to get to sleep faster, staying asleep longer, and feel properly rested in the morning.
Think that a different sleep pattern would be better for you? Learn about the natural and possibly preferred form of sleeping; biphasic sleeping, HERE!
Sleep Rhythm & Sleep Cycle
Everyone’s sleep rhythm, or sleep cycle, consists of several different kinds of sleep. REM sleep, light sleep, and deep sleep. Throughout a full nights rest you will fall into and rise out of a deep sleep several times.
If you are lucky enough to sleep until your body naturally decides to wake up, you will wake up during a lighter level of sleep and you will then feel better rested.
Learn more about your sleep cycle in our Complete Guide to Your Sleep Cycle.
How to Fix a Broken Sleep Schedule
So for whatever reason your sleep schedule has gotten all messed up and now you’re sleeping at inconvenient times and waking up at all hours of the night. This can be incredibly frustrating and not the easiest to fix. But there are ways to naturally shift your sleeping schedule back to normal.
Tip One: Avoid naps at all costs. True, this won’t be easy. However, if you nap when your sleep schedule is broken, you will quickly fall into a deep sleep and further confuse your internal clock.
If you feel like you are drifting into a nap, try low level physical activity that will keep you moving, but won’t completely exhaust you. A brisk walk is a great option if you feel the urge to nap creeping in.
Tip Two: Drink cold water. While caffeine is a great quick pick me up, it can also have a crashing effect. Taking a drink of cold water is refreshing and staying hydrated can help to keep you from getting drowsy as well.
Tip Three: Find your optimal sleep and rise schedule. We love the sleep calculator, it help you determine the different time windows you can go to sleep during that are most likely to have you in a lighter cycle of sleep at your desired wake period.
Tip Four: Be as consistent as possible. This is the most important part to training your sleep cycle to line up with your schedule. The more consistent you are with waking up at the same time every morning, the faster your sleep cycle will sync up.
How to Fix Your Sleep Schedule For School
Summer break is a beautiful time for long days at the pool, staying up late, and sleeping in. Like all good things, summer must eventually come to an end. School comes back around and it is time for new pencils, folders, and waking up early.
Tip One: Start shifting your schedule before the first day of school. First days of school tend to be filled with excitement. You want to make sure you get a great start to the new school year and you definitely don’t want to be late. So start waking up early at least a week before school starts. This will give you some time to adjust to the new schedule before you have to rush to school.
Tip Two: Eat breakfast. Start this at least a week before school starts as well. If you don’t eat breakfast in the morning you won’t have the chance to eat at school until lunch. It also helps to get your body used to the new schedule.
Tip Three: Go to sleep early. If you are truly waking up earlier this will be easy to adjust. (As long as you are not napping your days away) Put away any distractions, that will help with this part. Phones, laptops, and tvs will all serve to keep you awake longer at night. If you get to sleep earlier, we promise it will make it infinitely easier to get up in the mornings.
How To Fix Your Sleep Schedule In One Night:
While you cannot completely reset your internal clock in one night, you can choose to change your sleep habits in one night.
Wake Up Early:
We suggest starting by waking up early, this for most people will be the most difficult test of will power. No matter how tired you are, get up. Keep in mind that this will help you later when you need to go to sleep early.
Learn how you early mornings can be your friend in our guide on How To Become A Morning Person.
Do Not Nap:
No matter what, don’t nap. If you do, like we said earlier, you will fall into a deep sleep and be unable to go to sleep early and stay asleep for a full nights rest. If you are wanting to change your sleep schedule in one day, this step is absolutely non negotiable.
Do Not Relax Too Much:
Try to stay relatively active throughout the day, go do your grocery shopping or clean out your pantry, anything that will keep you moving. This will help you avoid accidental napping. You also want to keep moving throughout the day so you will be tired once nighttime comes around.
If you are laying on the couch watching TV for several hours before going to bed, you won’t be tired enough to fall asleep at bedtime.
Do Not Overwork Yourself:
On the flip side, you also do not want to overwork yourself either. The day you decide to change your sleep schedule would not be the prime time to try out the latest workout craze. That will be too tiring and you might risk early burnout and crashing. If you crash too soon into the evening, you will wake up in the middle of the night and have a new problem on your hands.
Go To Sleep Right On Time:
Too late and you will sleep in, too early and you will wake up in the middle of the night. Again, we love the sleep calculator to get a good estimate of the prime time to go to sleep for your chosen wake up time. Click the button bellow to check it out.
How to Get Back to Sleep:
With any sleep cycle there will be points through the night that you will be sleeping lighter or even wake up during those times. If you wake up during this time because of a need (ie. restroom, thirsty, hungry). Try to take care of it quickly and in as little light as possible.
Keep water by the bed, and don’t turn on too many lights when using the restroom. We do not recommend eating during the middle of the night. It will raise your blood sugar and begin to wake your body up. If you often get hungry through the night try drinking some water to temporarily curb your hunger.
If you can’t seem to get back to sleep after you have taken care of your needs, make sure you do not stay physically active. Passing around the house will only serve to wake your body even further. Also avoid getting on your phone or turning on the TV. The light will trigger your circadian rhythm and the stimulation of the content will wake you up as well.
Instead, trying to stay as comfortable in bed as you can. We suggest meditation practices for soothing busy minds back to sleep.
Check out our article Meditation for Sleep, Anxiety & Healing to learn more.
Sleep Schedule Still Messed Up:
If you feel like you have tried everything and you are still having trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep, you may have a bigger problem like chronic insomnia. If you think you have chronic insomnia, we do advice you to seek medical advice from a doctor.
However, there are a few thing you can check at home before you take that next step.
- Check Medications and Supplements:
Especially if you have changed anything recently, take a look at the side effects of everything you are taking. You may need to adjust what you’re taking or when you are taking your medicine or vitamins. (Check with your medical doctor before you make any changes)
- Food & Drink:
Take stock of what you are eating and drinking before bedtime. This can really effect the quality of your sleep. Avoid caffeine, dark chocolate, or alcohol before bedtime. See which foods might be helping and hindering your sleep in the Best & Worst Foods Before Bed.
- Change Your Routine?
If there is anything you have changed in your nightly routine, it might be worth looking into those changes to see if it could be taking an effect. Maybe the new tea you’re drinking at night isn’t caffeine free, or your new mattress is not the right fit for you. Sometimes the smallest things can make a big difference in how you’re sleeping.
Time to Fix Your Sleep Schedule:
Sleep Schedules can be finicky but by keeping a consist schedule, you can really make a difference. Make sure you’re getting to sleep at the right time and waking up at the same time everyday and eventually your internal clock will be able to line up with your desired schedule.
Do you have any tried and true tips for fixing a broken sleep schedule? We would love to hear more, contact us to see if we can feature your favorite ways to create the best sleep schedule.