Do you go to sleep and wake up at the same time everyday?
Does the time you go to sleep change from day to day?
The good news is that there are methods on how to adjust your sleep schedule.
Responsibilities such as caring for others, raising children, or changing work shifts can understandably make it more difficult to have a stable sleep schedule.
There are times when others enjoy staying up later on the weekends and sleeping later into that very same day. Nevertheless, if you have sleeping problems it is beneficial to maintain a consistent sleep pattern even on the weekends.
Creating and maintaining a stable sleep schedule is one of the best methods to improving your sleep patterns. Even though we are of aware of this fact it can be a challenge to go back a normal sleep schedule when things get out of hand.
In this article, let us explore the two different methods that will help you get back onto a proper sleep schedule.
1st Method: Sleep Restriction Therapy
Sleep restriction therapy entails maximizing the amount of time you spend in your bed asleep versus the amount of time you spend lying awake in your bed.
This is a difficult process to proceed through, so it is advised to have a sleep specialist walk you through the process. If a sleep specialist is not available, you should try to do this on your own.
Step #1: Create a sleep journal
The first thing that you need to do is to create a sleep journal for the first two weeks.
In your journal, record the following information:
- The total number of hours you are physically lying in bed for each night. (Exclude any time you spent reading books)
- The total number of hours you believe that you were actually sleeping and work this out to the best of your ability (sleep trackers are very useful for recording this information).
After this two week period, calculate the average amount of hours you are actually sleeping each night.
Step #2: Only lie in your bed for the time that you normally sleep for
This step entails that you only be in your bed for the amount of time that you are sleeping- even if it is not the amount of time that you ideally would sleep for (more details in step #4).
Think of it like this, if you were averaging 6 hours of sleep every night for two weeks. In reality, you were actually in your bed for 8 hours, spending the last 2 hours struggling to go to sleep.
Knowing that you were sleeping for 6 hours, you need to make a choice on a time to wake up and then work backwards from that point.
For example, if you wake up everyday at 7 AM to get prepared to go to school or to work. 6 hours before that indicates that the time you go to sleep is initially 1AM.
The goal here is to be asleep for 90 percent of that time. If you are going to bed at 1 am and you are falling asleep by 1:15 am, then you are on the right track.
It is normal to take a few days to adjust to this new time. Keep in mind that this is only the second step so even it this seems out of the ordinary at first, you will gradually go to sleep earlier than before.
Step #3: Add 15 additional minutes to the time you go to bed
When you are successfully able to sleep for 90 percent of the time for two days in a row, you can now add 15 additional minutes to the time that you go to sleep. For example, the following night you would be in bed by 12:45 PM.
Keep up this method and your internal clock will eventually adjust to your desired schedule.
Step #4: Make progress towards the amount of sleep that you need
You should have an idea for the amount that you need to sleep for in order to feel energized and to be in top form. That can be anywhere from 7 to 9 hours.
Say that were averaging 6 hours of sleep every night and that is clearly not enough for you to function at your best. You can slowly progress towards until you reached that 7, 8, or 9 hour time frame.
Each time that you fall asleep rather easily with each 15 minute increase, add 15 additional minutes the following night. Overtime these 15 minute increases will add up until you reach your targeted amount of sleep.
Some people find that the only thing that they need to do is to add 15 minutes a few times in order to reach their desired amount of sleep.
Those who have severe insomnia may find that they need additional steps. This will vary based on how many hours you are currently getting and how many hours that you need.
When you are performing the sleep restriction therapy. If you do feel tired it is fine to take a nap during the day, but it cannot last longer than 20 minutes. Do not perform any lie downs either even when you cannot sleep at night during the entire process.
Taking naps that are longer 20 minutes during the day and lie downs at night before your bedtime will disrupt your normal sleep cycles and the schedule that you are currently adjusting.
2nd Method: Maintain a consistent sleep schedule
The next method after completing the sleep restriction therapy is to maintain a consistent sleep schedule. However, if your current sleep schedule is still not where you need it to be.
The best thing to do is to continue the sleep restriction therapy method until you have reached your desired bedtime and the number of hours you need in order to feel energized.
This method of maintaining a consistent sleep schedule involves going to sleep and waking up at same time everyday. It is a challenge to control when you fall asleep, yet controlling the time that you wake up is achievable.
Here is an example of an ideal sleep schedule:
- Go to bed at 9:30 pm and read a magazine or a book. There are other relaxing night time activities if reading is not your preference.
- Turn off the lights at 10 pm and fall asleep immediately after.
- Wake up at 6 am and get out of bed shortly after.
You can control the time that you go to bed, the time of your relaxing activity and the time that you set your alarm clock for. Out of all the factors, the one that is hard to control is actually falling asleep.
The important thing to keep in mind is to be consistent with the timing of the factors listed above and to wake up at the same time everyday with no deviations.
Even if you had a terrible night’s sleep, always wake up at that same time.
The goal here is that eventually you will be able to fall asleep at a normal time instead of a different time every night.
Do not lie in your bed being stressed out
There will be times where you do not feel as sleepy at your scheduled bedtime. In the worst case you attempt to go to sleep, yet you feel completely awake.
If this does happen to you. There are four methods that will help relieve your stress, calm you down, and help you fall asleep:
1. Get out of your bed if you cannot sleep
On average, it takes 15 to 20 minutes for most people to fall asleep. If you find that you are still awake after this time period. These are steps that you should take:
- Leave your bed.
- Enter another room for a little while.
- Try going to sleep at that later time.
The important aspect here is to not be stressed out if you cannot sleep. Having a night time routine is an excellent way to help you relax.
2. Perform some relaxation techniques
Performing some relaxation techniques will help you unwind and calm your mind down.
3. Read until you feel drowsy
Although, your sleep schedule calls for half an hour of reading. It is completely acceptable to continue reading until you feel drowsy.
4. Go to bed only when you feel drowsy
I recommend that you read a book when you are lying down in bed. This activity is low stimulating unlike some high stimulating activities such as watching videos on an electronic device.
Reading at night puts your mind in a lower state of consciousness and in turn helps you relax enough until you fall asleep.
An interesting fact about reading at night is that this activity can help boost your memory because getting a good night’s sleep has been shown to help retain any information that you read the day before.
That should be another reason to read before going to bed. I have done this before and this method works especially well when you have to remember something the next day.
Preserve your sleep schedule
Now that you have a regular sleep schedule set in place. You must make your schedule a top priority.
The time that you go to bed cannot be overlooked. You need to take measures to ensure that nothing will interfere with this time of the day.
There are exceptions such as health needs, taking care of others, childcare, and emergencies. However, there are are other factors that can subtract from your sleep time. These factors can be controlled and examples of them are:
- When playing any video games, save where you currently are. Do not start any levels that will take a long time to complete.
- When you are watching a television show or movie, pause the show or movie. Then make a note of the time or part that you left off at and resume watching from that point the following day.
- If you are working and it is starting to get late. The best thing to do is to finish up what you are currently doing. Record where you left off at and continue your work the next day.
Another factor that can be controlled are social activities (important for one’s well-being). The important note to keep in mind here is that if you want to preserve your sleep schedule.
You should try your best to limit how often social events disrupt your sleep schedule when you are trying to get back into a proper rhythm.
Partner keeping you awake at night?
There are other factors that keep you from falling asleep at night. Factors that may seem out of your control can be caused your partner.
There are different ways that your partner can disrupt your sleep such as:
- Grinding their teeth.
- The body temperature they are emitting.
- Sleep talking.
- Taking too much space.
When your partner is sleeping they are not aware that they are affecting you. If sleep talking is not keeping them awake, then why should they bother to do anything about it?
The best thing to do is to communicate in an honest and open manner to your partner about how their sleep habits are disturbing you. It is better to talk to them about their disturbing sleep habits preferably during the day and not when they are feeling groggy at 4 am.
Inform your partner in a calm and collected manner so that both of you can find a solution. This is a much better method than blaming them for the reason why you cannot sleep.
Blaming your partner does not solve anything. Taking action to solve the problem does.
Your partner will need to either take self-help action or go seek a doctor. For example, if they snore loudly it would be in your best interest to go see a doctor to find out if it is not something more serious such as sleep apnea.
Are you waking up in the middle of the night?
The majority of people find that they fall asleep rather easily, yet they wake up in the middle of night. It can be frustrating to be awake at 4 am and it can feel as though time is moving slowly at this time.
The interesting thing about waking up in the middle of the night is that there is historical and scientific evidence to claim that this behavior is not harmful and is beneficial.
Many medical professionals refer to this as “sleep maintenance insomnia”. There are other theories that suggest that this behavior is nothing out of the ordinary.
As you can see even if it feels as though your sleep schedule is out of sync. There are ways to get back into a groove so that your brain will be conditioned to know your sleep patterns.
This will enable you to go to sleep and wake up at the same time everyday. Following these methods will help guide you back on the right track.
Rest well and wake up in the morning feel recharged like an electric car.
What is your sleep schedule like?
Do you follow a consistent pattern everyday?
Please share your thoughts in comments below.
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