10 Ways to Naturally Reset Your Sleep Cycle
Whether you're traveling or trying to wake up early to start a new fitness routine, your sleep cycle can get thrown off. Here's exactly how to adjust to a new sleep rhythm. It's easier than you'd think.
Understand your body’s chemistry
Circadian rhythms are influenced by your environment. This includes light exposure, which adjusts your body clock and suppresses the release of melatonin, a natural hormone that signals to your body that it’s time to sleep, according to Charles Czeisler, director of the division of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School. That’s one reason people find it easier to get up in the summer, when the sun rises earlier, he explains.
Create a sleep routine and stick to it
Your body will appreciate a sleep schedule it can get used to. “Go to bed at the same time and do the same activities every night before bed,” Heidi Connolly, MD, chief of pediatric sleep medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center told webmd.com. “Your body is getting a cue that it’s time to fall asleep.” Here are eight little changes you can make now for a better night’s sleep tonight.
Don’t compare the old and new time zones
When traveling, try to mentally adapt your new time zone, instead of reminding yourself and others what time zone your body is reacting to, says Karen Nourizadeh, meditation guru and instructor at Pure Yoga in New York. “Even though there is a discrepancy, if you continue to think or speak of that discrepancy, you are reinforcing that there is a deficit or negative effect on you or your sleep patterns.”
Lighten up your days
Soak in natural light during your daytime hours by spending time in the sunshine. This light exposure will can assist your body in adapting to a new sleep pattern. If you’re unable to be outside during daytime hours, consider using indoor bright lights or investing in a light box for a light boost.
People who exercise report getting better quality sleep, as well as having improved energy and a cheerier mood. “That all helps when you’re getting up earlier in the morning,” says Jo Lichten, PhD, RDN, author of Reboot: How to Power Up Your Energy, Focus, and Productivity. Also, Dr. Lichten says taking movement breaks every 90 minutes or so while at your desk during the day will also help with that groggy feeling that you have until your body adjusts to the morning schedule.
Unwind for bed peacefully
About an hour before bed, try writing in a journal, meditation, or drink a cup of chamomile tea, when you begin to feel tired at night to further relax your mind and body, suggests Martin Rawls-Meehan, CEO of Reverie, a sleep technology company. Here’s a list of the best songs to help you sleep, according to science.
You know you need to pass on that after-dinner espresso if you want to sleep soundly, but you also need to limit alcohol and caffeine, especially for the first few days of the time shift, says Mark Buchfuhrer, MD, medical director of the Comprehensive Sleep Center at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles. In addition, he suggests avoiding heavy meals as they may promote sleepiness during the daytime.
Don’t be a clock-watcher
During your brain re-train, avoid looking at the clock if you wake in the middle of the night. “When you look at the clock, it often triggers thoughts of how many minutes or hours there are left to sleep or other unnecessary thoughts, which can keep you going back to sleep,” adds Nourizadeh. (Find out the weird things that happen to your body when you get too much sleep.)
Put away your devices
Ban the blue light from your bedroom. “The light that comes from your electronics and energy-efficient light bulbs, has a powerful effect on your ‘master clock,'” Michael J. Thorpy, MD, director of the Sleep-Wake Disorders Center at the Montefiore Medical Center tells webmd.com. These gadgets and devices interfere with bedtime calmness. For a really sweet slumber, here’s how to make your bed cozier than ever.
Make mornings bright
Light tells your body’s clock when it’s time to wake up. Do your part by turning on lights or opening shades. “That’s a very healthy way to reset your clock,” Christopher Colwell, PhD, a neuroscientist and professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at UCLA Medical School tells webmd.com. Here, ideas to make your mornings even brighter.