One of the most common things that parents tell their children is that having a good night’s sleep is healthy. However, this advice does not end in childhood but continues into adulthood with many experts stressing the need for a good night’s sleep.
In the case of adolescents and young adults, research shows that healthy sleep should last between 7 and 9 hours a night. According to experts, establishing a sleeping schedule is one of the best ways to ensure that one gets a healthy amount of sleep.
While establishing a regular sleep routine is often a difficult task, it does have a positive impact on one’s quality of sleep. Ultimately, this translates to improved health, improved energy, enhanced memory and even an increased ability to focus.
10 Simple Tips on how to Establish a Sleep Schedule
1. Develop A Bedtime Routine
A bedtime routine is meant to give the body a cue that it is time to sleep. Therefore develop a regular bedtime routine. An ideal routine is one that drives the body into a state of relaxation.
Some potentially good things to do before sleeping include;
- Meditating at least ten minutes before sleep.
- Drinking warm milk, or chamomile tea; these have a calming effect on the body.
- Read a book or magazine.
- Listen to soft and gentle music as this has a more relaxing effect.
- Writing a journal or diary.
- A hot bath will lower the body temperature which is good for sleep.
2. Consistency Is The Key
The success of a sleep routine mainly lies in an individual’s ability to have a consistent sleep and wake schedule. Consistency, in this case, means having the same sleep and wake hours all through the week.
By developing and maintaining a consistent sleep time and wake up time routine, you are effectively training your body clock to adapt that schedule. Making it easier to wake up at the designated time every morning even without an alarm clock.
In fact, technology has made it even simpler for people to develop and stick to sleep and wake up times. For example, iPhone 10.2 iOS includes a “bedtime” application that helps users to set sleeping times and their corresponding wake times.
The application also makes it possible for one to keep track of his/her sleeping habits/data.
3. Make Small Changes
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. The same principle applies with changing sleeping schedules. For example, it ‘s hard to change one’s sleeping time from 1 a.m. to 9 p.m. in one move.
A more efficient way of making the sleep adjustments is to make small changes on a regular basis. For example, one could try to sleep earlier by 15 minutes for 3 or 4 nights then make subsequent 15-minute adjustments. This way, the body adjusts to the sleep time much more easily.
4. Make Day And Night Distinct
The human body uses certain signals and cues to determine whether it is day or night. You can, therefore, enhance the body’s recognition of day by directly associating mornings with bright lights.
This could include walking in the morning sunshine or simply turning on the lights. In fact, according to experts, this is a good way of resetting the body clock.
On the same note, lights should be dimmed off or completely switched off at night to signal the body that it is sleep time. Most experts suggest sources of blue light such as computers, television, cell phones and other sources of blue light.
5. Eat Right
Eating habits may also have an impact on sleeping cycles and sleeping habits. According to academic research, eating late increases, one’s chance of experiencing a crash in blood sugar when sleeping.
Subsequently, this has the effect of triggering an increase in the levels of cortisol in the body and ultimately, a reduced production of melatonin. Nevertheless, it is important to note that even going to bed on an empty stomach can also disrupt sleep schedules and habits.
What’s more, it is advisable to have a small snack containing carbohydrates and protein. This kind of snack induces a feeling calmness and relaxation in the body hence helping with better sleep.
6. Take Shorter Naps During The Day
It is quite normal to experience some fatigue sometime in the course of the day and particularly in the afternoon. When this happens, a nap is quite relaxing. The dilemma is that a nap that is too long may disrupt the main sleep schedule. According to sleep experts, an ideal nap is at least 20 minutes.
7. Go Slow On The Caffeine, Alcohol Or Nicotine
Caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine are not good for sleep. Caffeine, for example, is a stimulant that is often used in the morning to trigger alertness.
At night, however, the body needs relaxation rather than stimulation. Experts suggest avoiding caffeine, alcohol or even nicotine for at least 6 hours before sleeping.
8. Timely Exercise On A Regular Basis
Exercising on a regular basis has the effect of improving the quality of sleep. In fact, research has established that by exercising for at least 2 1/2 hrs. Per week, one can sleep better and even have increased alertness during the day.
The timing of the exercise also matters. Research suggests that exercising late in the day can have the effect of disrupting sleep. Other studies suggest that exercising in the morning is linked with better sleep.
9. Get Out Of Bed If Not Sleepy
It is not uncommon for one to get into bed and not feel like sleeping even 30 minutes later. If this is the case, experts propose getting out of bed and engaging yourself in a calming activity.
Reading, listening to music or writing are great activities to consider. Only get back to bed when you are sleepy. The underlying reason for this is that for better sleep schedules, one should only associate the bed with sleep or sex.
10. Avoid Snoozing
Developing and maintaining a sleep schedule has a lot to do with one’s discipline. This is particularly the case with the first few days of a new routine where waking up earlier in the morning is not easy.
During such instances, one has the temptation of snoozing for a few minutes when the alarm rings. By avoiding the habit of snoozing, one can change the rhythm of the body’s clock.