By Brian Acton
Want to make sure you’re getting the most out of your sleep? It helps to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day - this regulates your circadian rhythm, your body’s internal clock that cycles between periods of tiredness and alertness.
Going to sleep and waking up at the same time daily is easier said than done, but it can help you feel more rested and focus on tasks. Here are some tips for establishing a consistent sleep schedule.
- Set Consistent Bed and Wakeup Times
The first step in setting a sleep schedule is to decide on a bedtime and wakeup time. These will be the times you go to bed and get up every day, even on the weekends. While the actual times depend on your schedule, try to plan for at least seven to nine hours of sleep every night, which is the generally recommended amount of sleep for the average adult.
At first, you may not be able to fall asleep right after you get in bed, but you should go to bed at the same time anyway. When waking up, avoid the snooze button as it will throw your schedule out of whack.
- Gradually Work Toward Your Goal
If your sleeping and waking times will be a major adjustment to your existing schedule (or lack thereof), you may need to gradually ease into it. Once you establish your goal times, you can work toward them in 15-minute increments. For example, you could move up your bedtime by 15 minutes each week until you reach your goal. This will help your body adjust and, hopefully, avoid too many restless nights.
- Establish a Pre-Bedtime Routine
Having the same routine every night will help your body fall asleep more predictably. For example, reading a book, taking a bath, or stretching a few hours before bedtime will cause you to associate a specific activity with sleep and encourage you to drift off easier.
- Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol
The effects of caffeine can last up to six hours and prevent you from falling asleep, so you should avoid caffeine altogether in the hours leading up to bedtime. Alcohol can also affect your sleep quality and cause you to wake up throughout the night, so it’s best to avoid frequent or excessive alcohol consumption.
- Avoid Electronics
The blue light emitted by screens disrupts the production of melatonin, which helps you fall asleep. Gadgets can also keep your mind active and late night notifications can wake you up. It’s a good idea to avoid screens - including phones, televisions, and laptops - before bed. If you must get in some phone time before bed, consider using an app that dims your device’s blue light emission (or use blue light blocking glasses).
- Make Your Bedroom Comfortable
Your bedroom should be a shrine to rest. Take steps to make it as comfortable as possible so you can easily fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night. Reduce light and noise as much as possible, make sure you’re using the right pillows and bedding, and ensure your bedroom is the right temperature.