Reset Sleep Cycle: 6 Tips To Fix Your Sleep Schedule
In this article, we’ll discuss some simple tips that can help you reset your sleep cycle and fix your sleep schedule.
The circadian rhythm is what controls the sleep-wake cycle, and responds to external stimuli like light and darkness. It tells the body when to sleep and wake up, and also governs the smooth conduction of many bodily processes and functions.
However, sometimes, this rhythm might be thrown off balance due to changes in one’s lifestyle, such as:
- Working overtime
- Jet lag (due to travel across different time zones)
If this happens, you will have to put in special efforts to make sure that your circadian rhythm and internal clock get back on track, and you are able to get back in tune with your body clock. To help out with this, we have curated a list of some of the most effective tips you can use to reset your sleep cycle.
Reset Your Sleep Cycle
1. Avoid Screens Just Before Sleep
The light emitted by electronics like phones and laptops, also called ‘Blue Light’ passes through the cornea and enters the retina. This can cause digital eye strain and decrease contrast. The light prevents one from falling asleep easily and creates a sense of alertness in the mind.
To avoid this, ban the use of screens in the bedroom. Make sure that you stop using screens (including your phone) at least an hour before you go to bed. Try reading a book or listening to songs to relax the mind and get into the right mode to sleep. If one absolutely has to, these devices should be used in the night mode.
2. Plan Your Exposure to Light
The brain is programmed such that it secretes more melatonin, the hormone that enhances the quality of sleep when it is in a dark environment. We can make use of this to our benefit, and plan our exposure to light to reset our sleep cycle. Manipulating light exposure can considerably alter the body clock, especially while dealing with jet lag.
Light is a zeitgeber (rhythmically occurring natural phenomenon behaving like a cue in regulating the body’s circadian rhythms). Light cycles are detected by the retinal ganglion cells present in the eyes, and subsequent information is transmitted to the SCN (Suprachiasmatic Nucleus). In the absence of light, the pineal gland is directed to produce melatonin, which makes one drowsy and easily fall asleep.
As soon as you wake up in the morning, you must open the curtains or go for a walk outside. Expose yourself to sunlight. If you are a night-shift worker, switch on the lights and lamps at your house, and make sure you are surrounded by a well-lit environment. This exposure ceases melatonin production.
At night, before you go to sleep, prepare yourself for it by dimming the lights of the room. Make sure that no bright and unnecessary lights make their way into your eyes. Try to follow the earth’s natural cues, by getting sunlight during the day and almost no light at night.
3. Adopt Relaxation Practices Before Bedtime
One is often not able to sleep on time due to stress, as they keep tossing and turning, thinking over everyday burdening matters. This is one of the major causes of sleep cycle disturbances that upset one’s sleep schedule. To deal with this, one should practice relaxing bedtime rituals.
During periods of stress and anxiety, the body produces increasing amounts of cortisol. Cortisol is the body’s main stress hormone which is essential to control mood and motivation. It ignites in an individual a spurt of energy and also alertness, in order to combat stress, and make an individual feel more awake.
To avoid this, you can try one or many of the following activities before you go to sleep:
- Deep breathing
- Listening to light music
4. Ensure a Quiet Sleeping Environment
Avoid sleeping in places that have a loud noise atmosphere, as this can disrupt sleep and drastically decrease its quality. The brain continues to process sounds even as we sleep since it does not entirely shut down during this time. Loud noises can be distracting and can cause frequent awakenings throughout the night.
Turn off the TV before you go to sleep, as sleeping with it on can lead to disturbed sleep. Also, keep the phone on the silent setting while you sleep. Remember, no call or text will be more important than a proper night’s sleep. Even though listening to music can help sleep better, make sure to avoid genres like rock and pop, which will have quite the opposite effect.
If you live in a noisy neighborhood, it can get difficult to avoid loud noises. Earplugs can be used in such cases. Another method that can work is to mask the environmental noise using white noise. White noise has a soothing and calming effect since it is a steady sound. It can be created using devices such as:
- Air conditioners
- Air purifiers
- White Noise machines
5. Try Melatonin Supplements
Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland which handles the sleep-wake cycles of the body. Its secretion reaches its peak in dark environments. Lower levels of melatonin are linked to reduced quality of sleep.
If one wants to reset their sleep cycle, they should try melatonin supplements. These supplements increase the concentration of melatonin in the body and induce periods of sleep. It can hence be used by night shift workers or others who want to alter their sleep schedule against the Earth’s natural zeitgebers.
However, do consult a doctor before using these supplements. Stay aware of the drug interactions and side effects its consumption can induce. Also, be informed of the correct dosage of the drug to prevent any later health complications.
6. Reset Meal Timings
The circadian rhythm is greatly impacted by what and when you eat. The food one eats takes time to be digested and hence one should try to eat dinner a couple of hours before they go to sleep. Eating at a set time every day creates a sense of routine in the body, and one automatically gets ready to sleep.
Avoid heavy meals before sleep as they can lead to frequent disturbances and hamper your sleep quality. Keep dinner light and also avoid caffeinated drinks like coffee and tea before bed. Instead, save these for breakfast so that you feel fresh and alert throughout the day.
Having a normal sleep schedule synced with your lifestyle has many benefits, which include increased productivity and better brain and body function. However, many people are not able to have such healthy sleep schedules due to unavoidable circumstances. They can try out some of the tips mentioned above to reset their sleep cycle and ensure a healthy lifestyle.
August 31, 2020 Sam Bell