A consistent bedtime routine helps ease the transition between wakefulness to sleepiness and if you’re having trouble falling asleep, you need to establish a sleep schedule.
The fact is, erratic sleeping patterns can leave you feeling tired and sluggish the next day. By establishing better sleep routines, you can get the most out of a good night’s sleep and you’ll always wake up feeling refreshed and energetic.
Also, developing a sleeping schedule allows you to fall asleep and wake up at specific times, no alarm clock needed. Below are tips to establishing a sleep schedule:
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Consistent Bedtime and Wakeup Time
Start by choosing a bedtime and wakeup time then stick to them no matter what. And no matter what, includes weekends. If you chose to wake up at 7 in the morning and sleep at 11 in the evening, wake and sleep at these hours consistently including Saturdays and Sundays. If you must sleep in on weekends, do not extend to more than two hours so your internal clock is not interrupted.
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The body’s internal clock is based on 24-hours intervals. Exposure to sunlight and darkness also triggers the release of certain hormones that leads to precise wake up and sleep cycles. Consistently sticking to specific bedtimes and wake-up times calibrates your body’s circadian rhythm or body clock, allowing you to wake up and fall asleep at specific times.
One Step at a Time
Apart from being consistent in terms of your wake up and sleep cycles, make small changes in your nightly routines. Now, there’s no need to make drastic changes to your nighttime routine to achieve better sleep. You simply cannot expect to fall asleep at 10 in the evening if you are habitually sleeping at 12 in the morning.
If say, you typically sleep at midnight, try adjusting your sleep schedule to 11:30 PM then gradually shift to 11 PM over the course of several days. Keep adjusting your nighttime schedule to get as much sleep as you can.
To reiterate, the body’s internal clock responds to daylight and darkness. This means daylight exposure will awaken you from your sleep so to prevent oversleeping, open the curtains before you go to sleep so natural daylight will flood your room in the morning.
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Exposure to morning light not only perks you up mentally, it does the body good too. So after waking up, spend several minutes outdoors, sipping coffee on your porch just to prep yourself mentally and physically to starting the day! Just make sure you don’t stay outdoors beyond 10 in the morning.
Dim the Lights
Dimming the lights at nighttime also eases the transition to sleepiness. Before you go to bed, take a warm shower then dim the lights. Try not to use mobile devices – including smartphones, tablets, laptops, or phablets – while lying in bed. Avoid watching TV or playing video games too. Just lie in bed, let your eyes focus on the darkness and let sleep take over.
Skip the Alarm
Studies show that waking up from an alarm clock reduces the quality of sleep. You’ll end up feeling even more tired and sluggish because you keep hitting the snooze button.
Thanks to your internal body clock, you don’t really need an alarm clock to wake up in the morning. As long as you are consistent in terms of waking up at certain hours, you will not sleep through the whole morning. If you must use an alarm, set it at a time that you actually need to get up. The body needs a few minutes to a daytime rhythm so take your time and ease yourself to wakefulness without rushing.
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Choose a specific dinner time and stick to it if you can. Keep your meals light and healthy. Ideally, you want to eat two to three hours before bedtime so the body has enough time to process your meal. Try not to drink too much water at night so you don’t end up waking up at the dead of night because you need to relieve yourself.
If you need a small snack before bedtime, sweets are a bad idea. Instead of noshing on cakes or donuts, choose a snack comprised of lean protein and a little carbs. Cheese and cracker, wheat toast with peanut butter, cereals with banana are a great pre-bedtime snack.
Finally, avoid any type of alcoholic or caffeinated beverages in the evening. These drinks contain stimulants that will delay sleep.