10 Ways to Reset Your Sleep Cycle
6. Adapt for Travel
You can take the edge off jet lag, especially when traveling east, by shifting your sleep before you leave.
- If you're flying east to a time zone where it's 3 hours later -- say from California to New York -- go to bed and get up an hour earlier for 3 days before you leave. By the third day, you should be on the time zone you're heading to.
- If you're going west, go to bed and get up an hour later.
If you don't adapt ahead of time, do it as soon as you get there. "Stay up until it's your regular bedtime in your new time zone," says Michael Decker, PhD, D.ABSM, of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. A brisk walk in the sunlight may also help.
7. Split Up Sleep
This can help if you work a night or rotating shift and have trouble sleeping 8 hours straight. Snooze for 4 hours when you get home and 4 hours again before work.
8. Ask Your Doctor About Melatonin
This hormone, which your brain makes at night, seems to help bring on sleep. A 3- or 5-milligram melatonin supplement may help, but be careful.
"More is not necessarily better," says Phil Gehrman, PhD, CBSM, of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. "It can stay in your brain too long and cancel out any benefits you might get."
Get your doctor's advice on a dose and the best time to take it.
9. Go Low-Tech
High-tech devices that monitor your sleep cycle promise better sleep -- like wrist or head bands that monitor your sleep cycle to find the best moment to wake you. But you might not need a fancy device.
"The best things are probably the really low-tech things, like plain sleep masks and earplugs," Ju says.
Blackout shades, a soft fan to drown out noise, and unplugging the telephone are other low-tech options.
10. Get Help
If you try all these tips and still have sleep problems, talk to your doctor. "Therapy to teach you better sleep habits and medication can help retrain your brain to fall asleep and stay asleep," Decker says.