An unhealthy sleep schedule can have a detrimental effect on your physical health and mental wellbeing. A lack of restorative sleep over a prolonged period can lead to depression, anxiety disorder, heart problems, cognitive decline, and other health issues that steal health and joy from your life. Fixing an unhealthy sleep schedule is easier than you think and can be implemented tonight.
Good sleep hygiene involves a wind-down well routine and a sleep environment that is calming and sleep inducing
What is Sleep Hygiene?
Good sleep hygiene involves a wind-down well routine and a sleep environment that is calming and sleep-inducing. A consistent sleep schedule ensures quality sleep every night for active days and good health. Building a healthy wind-down routine could involve a hot bath, reading a book, meditating, gentle yoga, stretching, or a skincare routine that relaxes you for sleep. There is no need for fancy or expensive equipment, your sleep hygiene routine can start now.
Causes of an Unhealthy Sleep Schedule
It is easy to slip into unhealthy patterns that result in poor sleep and sleep disorders. Circadian rhythms are sensitive and even a couple of late nights can result in a week of bad sleep. An unhealthy sleep schedule means you are getting less than 7 hours of sleep per night. Perhaps you are staying up late to watch TV or study, you may have an erratic work schedule, or illness and medication can cause poor sleep. Knowing the root cause of your poor quality sleep can help you devise a strategic wind-down well routine.
A healthy sleep schedule is pivotal to good physical health and mental wellbeing
Why a Healthy Sleep Schedule is so Important
A healthy sleep schedule is pivotal to good physical health and mental wellbeing. As you sleep, important physiological processes are taking place. Energy is restored, memories are organized and cataloged, hormones are regulated, and your body is replenished. Waking up from a night of healthy sleep ensures you have energy for the day and the mental fortitude to get through any stressful moments. If you are unable to sleep at night and feel tired when you wake up, you could suffer a physical illness, cognitive decline, mood swings, and lack of vital energy you need to get through your day.
How to Reset Your Sleep Schedule
Create a Schedule
Fail to prepare, prepare to fail, as the old saying goes. Being organized in work and home life gives you control over your time. Creating and sticking to a schedule gives you a clear view of what you need to achieve. For long term sleep hygiene success, setting consistent bedtimes and wake up times makes sleep and a wind-down well routine a priority. Take a look at your work schedule and home care duties and create a sleep hygiene routine that allows you 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Your sleep plan must fit around your lifestyle, work, and home life.
Follow a Nightly Wind-Down Well Routine
Routines are not just for children. Being in control of work and home life involves some level of routine. It is important to wind-down before bed so you can easily drift off to sleep. The blue light of your TV or electronic device will keep you awake, so it is best not to watch TV or use an electronic device for at least 30 minutes before bed. Instead, opt for a hot bath or shower, reading a paperback book or magazine, meditation, doing some gentle stretches or light yoga, or snuggling your pet. Relaxation techniques before bed prepare your mind and body for a night of restorative sleep.
Look After Your Physical Health
Physical activity is the best sleep medicine because it tires you out and helps you fall asleep fast and stay asleep for longer. A fitness routine does not have to be hours spent in the gym, choose a physical activity that makes you happy. Walking in your local park or around your neighborhood, swimming a few times a week, biking, hiking, even hula hooping can get your body moving and make you feel happy. Exercise is not meant to feel like a chore, it is meant to build physical strength, strengthen your mind, make you feel good, and help you sleep like a baby. If you are new to exercise you could join a local walking or hiking group for sociable and fun outings.
Modify Your Sleep Space
Your sleep environment is your sanctuary, your haven from the world, your place of respite and love. The most important item in your bedroom is your mattress. If you wake up every morning with aches, pains, and feel like you have not slept well, consider a free trial of a new mattress that can make the difference between sleep and insomnia. A good quality pillow is equally important, as well as comfortable bedding, black-out curtains or blinds, and air ventilation. Keep your bedroom clean and tidy, clear any clutter, and open your bedroom window every day for at least ten minutes to allow air to ventilate the room.
Let Daylight and Fresh Air In
Let the sunshine and fresh air into your bedroom every day. Circadian rhythms are activated by sunlight and darkness. Throw your curtains open in the morning as the sunlight will help you wake up. A blackout blind or curtains will keep street light and early morning sunlight out of your bedroom. This helps you enjoy deep restorative sleep. Allow fresh air into your bedroom every day as it will keep your bedroom and mattress fresh.
Limit Daytime Naps
If you need to grab a daytime nap, keep it up to 20-30 minutes. A longer nap could disturb your nighttime rest. A daytime nap can give you a boost of energy, creativity, and cognitive ability. The occasional nap should not have any effect on your nighttime sleep but if you are napping every day, it may be time to adopt a wind-down well routine to ensure 7-9 hours of sleep at night.
Avoid Eating Before Bed
Eating a heavy meal before bed could lead to acid reflux, heartburn, and insomnia. Your body processes slow down as you fall asleep, this includes your digestive system. If you feel peckish before bed, stick with easily digestible light snacks such as a small banana and a small glass of milk, some oatmeal, or some crackers.
Symptoms of Unhealthy Sleep Hygiene
- Anxiety and Depression
- Cognitive Decline
- Weight Gain
- Daytime Sleepiness
- Risk of heart disease
How Much Sleep Do I Need?
A healthy adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep every night to maintain good health. If you are recovering from surgery or illness you may need more sleep. Any less than 7 hours of sleep per night could put you at risk of illness. Make sleep and healthy sleep patterns a priority, it is an essential component to a healthy life.
Your sleep habits have a knock-on effect on every other area of your life. Poor sleep quality leads to daytime fatigue, cognitive decline and inability to concentrate, and ill-health. Adopting a wind-down well routine can help you relax before bed, helping you fall asleep faster and stay asleep all night.
How to Fix Sleep Schedule in One Night
The beauty of implementing a wind-down well routine is that it can be done right now without any expensive equipment. Start by removing the TV from your bedroom and avoid using any electronics for one hour before bed. Enjoy a hot shower to relax, meditate, or read a book to help you fall asleep.
Is it Important to Stick to a Sleep Schedule?
Consistency is key when setting a new schedule, especially a sleep routine. Sleep is vital to overall good physical and mental health. Your sleep wake pattern can mean the difference between having boundless energy every day or feeling lethargic and unable to concentrate. Stick to your sleep routine on your days off and aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
Why Should You Fix Your Inconsistent Sleep Schedule?
Create a sleep schedule and wind-down well routine around your lifestyle, work, and home responsibilities. Ensure you wind-down for at least 30 minutes before bed, do not watch TV in bed, and keep your cell out of your bedroom. Meditate, listen to calming music, read a book, or enjoy a hot bath to ease into a night of good sleep.