Summer is a time for fun and relaxation, but it can wreak havoc on our sleep schedules and habits. With vacations, late-night socializing, and extra daylight hours, it’s easy to fall into unhealthy sleep patterns. However, the consequences of chronic sleep deprivation go beyond feeling sluggish in the morning. In fact, it’s linked to serious health problems like diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure, not to mention its negative impact on cognitive functions and mood.
So, how can you reset your sleep schedule and ensure you’re getting the rest your body needs? Let’s dive into some practical tips to help you sleep smarter.
1. Start with Your Wake-Up Time
One common mistake people make when trying to improve their sleep is going to bed earlier right away. Instead, begin by setting a consistent wake-up time every day, including weekends. If you need to adjust it earlier, do it gradually, shifting it by just half an hour every two or three days. As you rise earlier, your bedtime will naturally adjust, ensuring you get the recommended seven to seven and a half hours of sleep each night.
2. Embrace Morning Light
Morning sunlight is your body’s best friend when it comes to regulating your sleep-wake cycle. Spending time outside within the first hour of waking up helps set your circadian rhythm, promoting wakefulness during the day and better sleep at night. Whether it’s enjoying your morning coffee on the porch or taking a walk with your dog, the benefits of morning outdoor time go beyond improving sleep—it boosts your energy too.
3. Make a To-Do List
Stress and anxiety about the day’s tasks can keep you tossing and turning at night. To quiet your mind, try writing out your to-do list for the next day at least an hour before bedtime. This simple practice helps you disconnect from your thoughts and focus on getting a good night’s rest.
4. Wind Down Gradually
Creating a calming evening routine can prepare your body for sleep. Dr. M. Safwan Badr suggests the 3-2-1 rule: stop eating three hours before bedtime, cease work two hours before, and avoid screens (phones, tablets, and computers) one hour before sleep. This gradual reduction in activity levels helps promote relaxation and better sleep.
5. Optimize Your Sleep Environment
Your bedroom should be a sanctuary for rest. Keep it cool, quiet, and dark—aim for a temperature of 70 degrees or lower. Additionally, decluttering your bedroom can help create a tranquil atmosphere that invites sleep. Dr. Emerson M. Wickwire emphasizes the importance of clearing physical clutter, as it can impact your mental state and overall well-being.
If you’re suffering from sleep apnea, you may still need to see a specialist, who will likely want to conduct a sleep study. But following these tips may help you reset your sleep schedule and improve the quality of your rest.
Source: Why Are You So Tired? Your Sleep Schedule Needs a Reset (Wall Street Journal)