10 Ways to Teach Your Body Clock Not to Mess With Your Sleep
During the day, your body’s internal clock moves between sleep and wakefulness. This is referred to as your circadian rhythm, and it’s controlled by the hypothalamus in the brain.
This sleep cycle can be thrown off by jet lag, all-nighters, shift work, and time zone differences. While these reasons are valid and often unavoidable, they do take their toll on our lives, and the effects can be detrimental to our well-being.
Thankfully, there are numerous ways you can ensure you get a good night’s sleep.
How To Get Your Sleep Schedule Back On Track
1. It’s all about the light
When the brain detects light, it stops producing the sleep hormone melatonin. As a result, you feel alert and awake. On the other hand, exposure to darkness assists with the production of melatonin, making you feel sleepy.
Select your lighting to meet your needs. If you’re trying to wake up, then light exposure is the key, while dimming the lights will assist in falling asleep.
Avoid electronics and screen time before bed to give your brain time to adjust and settle into a sleep mode.
2. Avoid naps
Daytime naps can affect your sleep schedule and throw your cycle off, making it difficult to go to sleep in the evening. You can also be left feeling groggy as you disrupt deep sleep.
If you need to take a nap, do so before 15:00, and for less than 30 minutes.
3. Get some exercise
Regular exercise is an effective way to reset your internal clock. Your tissues and muscles are linked to your biological clock, and by exercising you align the body’s muscles with your circadian rhythm.
Exercise stimulates the production of melatonin. 30 minutes of exercise should be sufficient, although you should avoid exercising for at least 2 hours before bedtime.
4. Create a quiet sleeping environment
Your brain continuously processes sound, even when you’re fast asleep. Loud distractions can make it difficult to fall asleep or can wake you up if you were asleep.
Avoid keeping a television in the bedroom, but if you do, turn it off well before bedtime. It’s also recommended that you put your phone on silent or turn it off completely to avoid disturbances during the night.
5. Keep the bedroom cool
You may not know this, but your body temperature drops when you’re trying to fall asleep. A cool temperature will help you fall asleep as the body feels more comfortable.
Research has found that warmer temperatures can make it harder to fall asleep and stay that way. A fan, blackout curtains or air conditioning are all great ways to keep cool, as is draping a cold towel on your bed, or dampening down your sheets with a spray bottle.
6. Seek comfort
It should be a no-brainer, but a comfortable bed can be the difference between a good and bad night’s sleep. It’s recommended that you regularly replace your pillows and mattress. If you wake up stiff or in pain this is another indicator that it’s time for a new mattress that offers better support.
7. Avoid eating too late
Try to eat at least two hours before bed to give your food the chance to digest. It’s recommended that you eat at the same time every day, as this will also synchronize with your circadian rhythm.
High-fat meals take longer to digest and can disrupt your sleep. Avoiding caffeinated drinks and alcohol before bed is a must too.
Fasting before bed can help you fall asleep as the body associates food with being awake, and fasts while sleeping. This makes you more likely to wake up on schedule, as your body becomes hungry in the morning.
A word of caution, going to bed hungry can prevent a good night’s rest so it’s important to find the right balance when fasting.
8. Stick to a schedule
Choose a time to go to bed and wake up – and stick to it.
You can’t fix your sleep schedule if you don’t have one to begin with. A routine will help you and your body become accustomed to a good sleep schedule while aligning with your internal clock. It may take a few weeks to form the habit, but once your body is used to it, it will be far harder to deviate from it.
9. Try to relax
Your body responds to stress by producing more of the stress hormone cortisol. The more stressed and anxious you are, the more cortisol you produce, making you feel more awake.
Relaxing before bed can alleviate stress and help you to sleep better. Calming activities can include yoga, meditation, stretching, deep breathing exercises, writing in a journal, and drinking caffeine-free tea.
10. Take a melatonin supplement
If your body isn’t producing enough melatonin (the hormone that regulates the sleep–wake cycle), you may be battling to fall asleep. Taking a melatonin supplement will not only help you fall asleep, but it will help to regulate your sleep cycle too.
If you are unsure about a supplement, consult your doctor and work under the guidance of a medical professional. There may be some side effects or melatonin may not be suitable for you.
A Process That Requires Dedication
It’s perfectly normal to have trouble sleeping every once in a while, and this can often be rectified by making simple changes. If you have a lifestyle that makes sleeping harder, you may need to put in more effort in creating a good sleep schedule than someone who simply needs to change bad habits.
The same way that we form new habits, so do our bodies. We need to effectively retrain them to sleep when external factors affect our ability to sleep. Our body clock needs to become familiar with our activity in order to develop its routine to support our sleeping needs.
Forming a new sleep routine will take time and effort. This is not an overnight change, but it’s one that’s worth it!
Description: Your sleep cycle can be greatly affected by a number of lifestyle changes and factors. Find out how to keep your body back on track and sleep well.