How to Fix Your Sleep Schedule
Do you get drowsy by mid-afternoon or find that you’re distracted by, well, everything? We all go through disruptions to our sleep schedule thanks to stress, travel or shift work. If you’re running on fumes and know that you’re not getting enough regular, quality sleep, consider working on your sleep schedule to reset your internal clock.
To understand how your sleep clock works, we need to look at circadian rhythm, which normally causes you to be tired in the evening and wake up around the same time each morning. Some people naturally wake up earlier and others have a later automatic time to rise. This is controlled by your environment, genetics and behavior. That’s why factors like sunrise, temperature, neurotransmitters, genes, hormones, and your work schedule combine together to influence how well, or poorly, you sleep.
How can you alter your sleep clock to improve your rest? Here are some tips to reclaim your sleep:
*Make Lighting Work for You: By manipulating light exposure, you may be able to push the reset on your body clock. By following the cues of nature, you’ll mimic what is happening to guide your body into a pattern that invites sleep. During the day, cells in your eyes detect light cycles and send this info to your suprachiasmatic nucleus or SCN, a region of the brain in the hypothalamus, above the optic chiasm. The SCN alerts the pineal gland to step up and produce melatonin, the sleep hormone. Melatonin levels hit a peak when things turn dark and you’ll get sleepy. Light triggers your body to cease melatonin production and you wake up. So by using lights in your home to follow the cycle of nature, exposing yourself to natural sunlight and bright lights starting in the morning and dimming lights in the evening as the sun goes down, you’ll help your circadian rhythm revert back to normal. Strip your bedroom down to darkness and don’t use any screens in there at night, to ensure that blue light from your devices and television doesn’t trick your body into perceiving that it is daytime.
*Get Ample Sleep: The Centers for Disease Control recommends seven to nine hours of sleep a night for adults. Even if you could function on four hours of sleep a night in college, things change.
*Don’t Fall for The Nap Solution: Naps may feel like they’re helpful and for instances like jet lag, grabbing a nap can be refreshing. But avoid naps any longer than 30 minutes or it may throw off your sleep schedule.
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