How to Fix a Sleep Schedule
Wanting to know how to fix a sleep schedule? Recently, one of my neighbors took the plunge and found a new job. His old one treated him like crap, but that isn’t important. What is important is that he used to work a regular 9 to 5 job. Now that he works from 12pm to 8pm, his sleep schedule is off. He would normally fall asleep round 11pm, but now, he is up until 1am everyday before he gets tired.
He asked me a couple weeks ago about how to get this broken sleep schedule back on track. I told him my last job did that to me as well and what I did to fix it
Get back on track by creating a solid plan to get back to sleep. This plan includes setting alarms for waking up and going to sleep and setting limits on daily activities at certain times during the day. Forcing yourself into these routines will “reset” your circadian rhythm.
This process will take some effort and active participation to complete. Ill go into detail on each step and explain why it is important. Your body wants to work on a schedule, so we are just helping it do what it wants.
How to Fix a Sleep Schedule
Sleeping seems like something we just “do” every day. Oh nay-nay… Your body relies on your sleep cycle and when it gets interrupted, it can wreak havoc on your daily life.
For most people, changes in work schedules are usually the culprits of changing your regular sleep schedule. Getting back on track is time consuming, but easy to set up. I’ll level with you, it involves changes to your lifestyle that will help get you back on track.
Lets cover what worked for me first, and I’ll explain some other methods that can work for you if my solution isn’t for you.
Setting Alarms to Fix a Sleep Schedule
The first option involves setting alarms and sticking to a schedule. What we are doing is tricking your circadian rhythm to get into a new sleep cycle.
We all get into a pattern with our daily lives based on our schedules. Our bodies get used to this schedule and want’s to stay in it with some consistency. So what you need to do, is create a new schedule and stick to it.
The biggest change is how you spend your time off the job. Making some small changes and setting alarms to stick with new behaviors we are about to set up.
People that get off work at 5pm usually stay up for another four to six hours before getting sleepy. This is the time your body uses to relax after a shift. If you now get off at 8pm, your body still wants that four to six hours of downtime to relax. Set an alarm for when you normally go to sleep and be ready to hop into bed.
If 10:30pm is the usual time to head off to bed, then set an alarm for 10pm. At 10pm, put your cell phone on the charger, stash the electronics and distractions and head to bed. Eventually, your body will fall back into its usual sleep schedule.
If you are unable to force your body to get to sleep, try the Military Sleep Technique until you start to get sleepy at the usual time. It can take a couple weeks to trick your body into setting this as your normal sleep time again, but you will get there! Keep to it!
Why this Helps to Fix a Sleep Schedule
In the example of leaving work at 5pm, your body is used to having those extra hours when you get home. Your body doesn’t really understand “time” like a clock, but only as a routine. We need to change your after work routine.
Of course, this is only half the routine. You will also need to set an alarm to get out of bed at the same time you used to. If you have kids, this is easy. Usually kids will help with that morning cycle.
Just force yourself to stay awake when you get up. What we are looking to do is still maintain that 8 hours of sleep, without breaking it up throughout the day.
Another great answer on how to fix a sleep cycle is by fasting. Yup, hear me out…
How to Fix a Sleep Cycle by Fasting
Did you know that fasting can help reset your sleep cycle? Harvard Medical School did a study back in 2008 that showed just that.
The study shows that you can trick your brain into waking up around the time you are ready to eat! This study has shown itself useful in situations like jet lag, but can work with changing schedules as well.
In practice, you want to wake up to a big meal. If you have more time in the morning now, you have plenty of time to prep a proper breakfast. Your body will get used to eating a meal in the morning and will begin to wake up around this time.
This, combined with your body’s need for a good 8 hours of sleep, will help set your new sleep cycle.
If you are making a big meal in the morning, make enough for the family! If you have kids, they will love a good breakfast instead of just a bowl of sugary cereal every morning. It doesn’t matter if you are the mom or dad, use this time to be extra amazing.
It should take less than a week for this to see results!
Sometimes, these tricks need some extra behavior changes to implement properly. Lets cover some basics you should be doing when learning how to fix a sleep schedule.
Fixing a Sleep Schedule Tips
Put Down the Cell phone
Your cell phone, tablets and computers have screens that can stimulate your eyes and prevent you from getting to sleep. Luckily, there is a simple answer. Put it DOWN.
If you are like me, and play with your devices right up until bed, there is an answer. Check out f.lux. You can use this to adjust your screens brightness to make it easier to use before bed.
You can also use some sleep apps if you have an smartwatch. Android has an app called “Sleep as Android” that can help track your sleep patterns. Kinda neat.
Cut the booze while working on how to fix a sleep schedule. Alcohol can not only keep you awake, at least until you pass out, and interrupt your sleep patterns. This can prevent your body from going through it sleep stages that it needs.
Warm Bath / Shower 30 Minutes Before Bed
I have read that hopping out of a hot bath and right into bed is a great idea. In my experience, it’s not worth it.
A nice hot bath or shower will elevate your body temperature and relax you. However, hopping into bed with this elevated temperature is counter productive. What you want is to relax while your temp comes back to normal levels, then hop into bed.
Fixing a broken sleep schedule can be difficult, but that is why you start simple. Set up your alarms, adjust your meal plans and stay the course. It will get better!
Regardless of what disrupted your sleep cycle, getting back on track requires setting a plan, and sticking to it. Keep your sanity and your life in check with a great nights sleep.
Check out my other post on How to Feel Well Rested with Little Sleep