Did you just get back from a trip? Is school starting up again soon? The end of summer is fast approaching, and it’s time to take inventory of your sleep habits! Sleep schedules can be easily thrown out of whack from traveling across time zones, staying up late over the weekend, and even resuming school at the end of summer. Sleep hygiene strongly impacts overall wellness and energy levels, but it’s easy to prioritize other activities oversleep. Somnology is here to help you stay on top of your sleep to start each day productively!
Sleep Schedules: Lifelong Importance
People of any age with any lifestyle can experience sleep issues. Parents know the difficulties of getting their children started on and sticking with a sleep schedule. Kids know the frustration of having to settle down for bed before they’re ready, especially kids with sleep disorders. Adolescents know how school schedules can interfere with sleep, in particular, those who start school days early. Even people who have slept well their entire lives should monitor their sleep health as they age, as some develop sleep problems over time.
For anyone with a busy schedule, it’s easy to lose discipline and deprioritize sleep. It is especially tough for shift workers with rotating schedules who may have to sleep during daylight hours, fighting their natural body clock, or circadian rhythm. Also, people who travel often across time zones tend to experience more sleep disruption from jet lag, a condition where your body clock isn’t aligned with the current time zone. You can learn more about jet lag and ways to avoid it here.
Lack of sleep kills energy levels and productivity during the day, making everything from work and school to parental responsibilities that much harder. So as busy as we may be, it’s critical to keep on top of our sleep schedules. Having a sleep schedule and sticking to it is highly beneficial to your health and energy levels. It promotes better quality sleep and feeling awake and sleepy at the right times.
How to Sleep Like a Pro
Day-to-day life can feel much harder when your sleep schedule is off. Whether you’ve recently jumped time zones while traveling or have had poor sleep long-term, here are some general tips to help:
Master your schedule: Create your sleep schedule and follow it closely, even on weekends. Straying by more than a couple hours can negatively affect your sleep quality and energy levels. Check out the SomnologyMD app for help with making a schedule and tracking your sleep.
Sleep in the ideal environment: Make sure your bedroom is quiet, cool, and comfortable. Because our bodies cool down to sleep, aim for a room temperature of 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit. If you live in a loud area, white noise machines can create ambient noise to block out those disruptors. Use clean, comfortable bedding and a mattress that feels best for you (some people prefer softer or firmer).
Food matters: Circadian rhythm is also connected to meal times, making us feel hungry just as we feel tired at night. Eat dinner several hours prior to going to bed so digestion is already well underway. Avoid alcohol and caffeine before bed. Alcohol makes you feel tired, but it actually disrupts circadian rhythm.
No napping: Naps, especially late in the day, can make it harder to fall asleep at night. Also, when you take a long nap during the day and wake from a state of a deep sleep, you can feel even more groggy than before the nap.
Reduce stress before bed: relaxation (meditation, stretching, deep breathing, yoga, etc.) helps lower your body’s production of cortisol, the hormone that makes you feel alert and, at high levels, stressed. Cortisol levels are lowest when you fall to sleep.
Get some sunlight: Exposure to sunlight causes your brain to stop producing melatonin, the hormone that makes you tired. If you’re feeling tired during the day at work, take a short walk outside. It may help more than coffee!
Exercise every day: Muscles are linked to a circadian rhythm. Exercising during the day helps your brain stay more alert during the day and fall asleep more easily at night.
These methods embody a holistic approach to sleep wellness. If you still struggle with sleep after trying these, it’s time to seek professional help. You may have a more serious underlying condition that can be diagnosed and treated by a sleep doctor.
Everyone’s body is different, but universally the human body is amazingly adaptive and always changing. Whether you’ve been sleeping poorly for days, months, or years, it’s never too late to get your sleep schedule back on track. So, take these tips to bed, have a great night and an even better tomorrow!