Whether you’re dealing with jet lag, night shift work, or insomnia, an inconsistent sleep schedule can impact your mood, concentration, and weight.
But you can re-tune your sleep cycle to get better rest and more of it.
Your Internal Clock
This is also called the circadian rhythm, and it tells your body when to sleep and wake up. Many of the important things going in your body rely on this sleep-wake cycle. That's why an out-of-whack sleep schedule can hurt your overall health while robbing you of shut-eye and leaving you groggy during the day.
Get the Rest You Need
Fall asleep faster and snooze better by following these tips:
1. Ban blue light. The light that comes from your electronics and energy-efficient lightbulbs, called blue light,has a powerful effect on your "master clock," says Michael J. Thorpy, MD, director of the Sleep-Wake Disorders Center at the Montefiore Medical Center.
At night, blue light keeps you from being able to wind down and fall asleep, he says. Turn off your TV, phone, and tablet, and dim the lights at least an hour before you hit the sack.
Night workers can buy glasses that block blue light during their daytime drive home to “trick” their brain into thinking it’s night time.
2. Skip naps. Avoid taking them if you can, Thorpy says.But if you feel so tired you can’t function, he says it’s OK to give in to a brief snooze. “But keep it to less than 20 minutes. It will refresh you but won't take away from sleep later.”
3. Get out of bed if you can’t sleep. If you’re still awake 20 minutes after turning in, get up and do something relaxing instead of staring at the ceiling. Staying in bed and tossing and turning trains your brain to stay awake night after night, he says.
4. Wake up at the same time every day. “You can’t always control when you fall asleep, but you can decide when you start your day. Having a regular routine sets the tone for your body for the whole day," he says.
If you typically work the night shift but have the day off, go to bed later than normal, and wake up later, too. This will help you adjust more easily when it’s time to be up all night again.
5. Practice good bedtime habits. These can go a long way to helping you fall asleep faster:
• Filter out noise. Use a white-noise machine to block sound when you sleep.
• Keep a cool room. The best temperature for good sleep is 67-68 degrees, Thorpy says.
• Avoid caffeine. Drinking coffee, soda, or tea after lunchtime can make you toss and turn at night.
• Exercise daily. Get your heart rate up during the day to boost your odds of good sleep, or do yoga before bed to relax.