So, your sleep schedule is completely out of whack. Maybe you’re jetlagged from a recent trip, have been kept up late by a new baby or a demanding work deadline, or you suddenly find yourself sleeping at incredibly weird hours. What can people do to fix their current schedule and get back into a healthy routine?
Though people may feel like naps are the only way they can possibly survive because their nighttime sleep is so unpredictable, napping is not doing them any favors when it comes to creating a consistent routine.
People should cut out napping altogether, but if that isn’t feasible, they can try cutting down on the length of their naps so they don’t interfere with their nighttime sleep. The Mayo Clinic says that an ideal nap is about 20 minutes long.
Introduce a relaxing bedtime ritual.
Figure out what the ideal bedtime is, then create a soothing ritual in the hour or so leading up to it. Psychology Today recommends something like journaling, meditating, or even list-making.
No idea where to start? Try taking a bubble bath, following a guided meditation, reading a book (a real paper one, not an ebook on a tablet or phone), stretching, or listening to music.
Use light to tell your body when to wake up.
People could open the curtains to let sunlight in, use an alarm clock that mimics the sunrise, or even go outside for a quick walk when they first get up. A light will help wake people up by cueing to their body that it’s “awake” time — not snooze time.
Keep an eye on caffeine intake.
Generally speaking, people should avoid drinking caffeine in the afternoon and evenings since that could keep them up at night. But caffeine affects everyone in different ways, so there’s no one-size-fits-all rule. People should figure out what amount of caffeine works for them, then make sure they aren’t overdoing it.
If people get sleepy in the middle of the afternoon, they should try taking a walk around the block or grabbing a glass of water instead of going on a coffee run — skipping that extra caffeine boost could make a huge difference to when they fall asleep that night.
If all else fails, talk to a doctor.
Have you tried everything you can think of, and you’re still struggling? It may be that there’s an underlying issue affecting your sleep. Chat with your doctor about any concerns you have, and see what their thoughts are on the matter.
[Editor’s Note: The content provided on this site is for general informational purposes only. Any information provided is not a substitute for professional medical advice. We encourage you to consult with the appropriate health expert if you have concerns.]
Featured image: Ljupco Smokovski/Shutterstock