How to Get Back On a Regular Sleep Schedule After the Holidays
The holidays are a great time to relax and have fun, but getting back to a regular schedule afterwards can be a real bear. If you spent your vacation staying out late and sleeping in every morning then your internal clock could be out of whack.
The sleepiness and crankiness you feel in the morning is very similar to the jet lag you feel when you switch time zones. Luckily, just like with jet lag, there are interventions that can help reset your internal clock to your normal routine. It usually takes 3 to 4 days to set up a good sleep schedule so be patient with yourself. Here are some ways to get back on a regular sleep schedule after the holidays.
Use the day’s natural rhythm
One way to help your body readjust is to use light or a light substitute in the morning to help you feel more awake. If the sun is out, step outside and soak in some rays to help you feel more rejuvenated. Health experts recommend outdoor exercise as the most optimum way to get your day started. If you have to wake up while it is still dark out, you can also stand in front of an artificial light source to help reset your circadian rhythms.
The same thing applies at night. Use the natural darkness or artificial darkness to let your body know that it is time to start relaxing and get back to sleep.
Watch your caffeine intake
While that cup or two of coffee in the morning might feel like a necessity to get your engine roaring, you need to make sure that you limit your caffeine intake in the late afternoon and at night. If you are sensitive to caffeine, coffee or soda later in the day can wreak havoc on your sleep schedule. A quick cup late in the afternoon to help you make it through those last few hours of the work day may be tempting, but going for a quick walk in the sunshine is a more natural way to perk up that won’t interfere with your sleep later.
Reset your wakeup time first
In the beginning, don’t worry about not being able to fall asleep earlier at night. Focus instead on setting a regular wakeup time. The earlier bedtime will come eventually as you tire yourself out earlier. Go to bed a little bit earlier each night, but don’t stress if you can’t fall asleep immediately. For now if you can’t fall asleep when you get into bed, it is okay to get back out of bed and do something else for a while until you do feel sleepy. Only get back in bed when your body tells you it’s time to sleep. Your body’s natural sleep rhythm will eventually kick back into action.
Avoid taking naps
Isn’t it ironic how as kids we hated taking naps, but now as adults we dream of the chance for a daily nap? While it may seem like heaven to be able to snuggle under the covers in the middle of the day, taking naps may actually leave you more disoriented. Instead of sneaking some extra shut-eye in, keep yourself going until it is bedtime and then you will be tired enough to easily fall asleep at your designated bedtime.
It’s okay to be flexible
While sticking to the same bedtime and wakeup time in the morning will give you the best results, we all like to stay up a little late every once in a while or maybe you have an important presentation you are working on. And who doesn’t like to sleep in on a lazy Saturday morning? Just make sure you only go off schedule for a day or two and then go to bed an hour earlier to slowly get your body back into its normal routine.
Transform your room into an oasis
If you have a cluttered bedroom, being in there might stress you out, not making it conducive for a good night’s sleep. Try to set up your bedroom like a special oasis which you will want to relax and spend time in. Piles of laundry piled up all round you is not conducive to a good night’s sleep, but an uncluttered room with a comfy bed and lots of pillows and blankets will have you in la la land in no time.
If you find that you are tossing and turning a lot and your mattress is over 10 years old, you might want to consider purchasing a new one. Also consider upping the size of your current mattress. Maybe you need more leg room while you sleep. A more comfortable bed can definitely help you if you are having trouble sleeping at night.
Eat at the same time everyday
Did you know that when you eat can also affect your circadian rhythm? Researchers have found that having a set time for meals can help you better handle changes in schedules or time zones. While our days may be so crazy it is difficult to have a set time for meals, it is important that we do so not only for our sleep health but our overall health as well. Don’t skip out on meals either, it will just make you binge late at night which will also affect your sleep cycle.
Eat a healthy snack before bed
Like caffeine, you shouldn’t eat salty food or foods that contain a lot of cheese and butter before bed. And avoid drinking alcohol too close to bedtime. A recent study of people’s sleep pattern in the U.S. however have discovered that a glass of milk and a handful of Brazil nuts before bed might help you sleep better.
Sleeping experts say that your internal body clock should be back in sync in just a few days. If you having more long-term problems, avoid depending on caffeine, alcohol or sleeping pills. Because there might be other factors in play, you should consult a doctor. Avoid phones and electronics in the bedroom also. Follow these suggestions and you will be back to a regular sleep schedule in no time.