The holidays are a special time of year for many reasons. Whether you traveled or stayed home, relaxed or entertained guests, chances are your sleep schedule got a little out of whack. For many, the holidays provide a perfect excuse to stay up late, sleep in and indulge in treats and alcohol. As you can imagine, these habits, albeit temporary, can wreak havoc on our sleep cycles.
Fortunately, there are several tried-and-true ways to get your sleep schedule back on track after the holidays. Everyone operates differently, so some of these methods may work better for you than others. Read on to discover our top tips for getting back to your regular sleep schedule.
Adjust your bedtime
If you’re used to staying up past midnight, it will be difficult for you to fall asleep at a normal hour. Over the course of a few days, gradually adjust your bedtime until you’re back at whichever hour will afford you your optimal amount of sleep. For most adults, this ranges from 7-9 hours.
Get up at the same time every day
To regularize your sleep schedule, it’s essential to get up at the same time every day. While you may be tempted to hit snooze or sleep in on weekends, try your best to refrain from these sleep sabotaging habits. Over time, your body recognize your wake-up time, and it will become easier to throw (or drag) yourself out of bed in the morning.
Be consistent with your sleep schedule
We can’t stress this point enough–consistency is key. Sometimes staying up later than usual is unavoidable. For instance, you may have an assignment to complete or late-night event to attend. But work responsibilities and fun shouldn’t take precedence over your sleep health. If you need to stay up late, try to still get up at your usual wake-up time, at least until your sleep schedule is more regular.
Avoid screens before bed
The blue light emitted from our phones, tablets, and computers is detrimental to our circadian rhythm, or natural sleep cycle. Light of any kind tricks our brains into thinking it’s daytime, and thus time to be awake rather than asleep. However, research suggests that blue light is especially harmful because it suppresses melatonin production and prevents the lowering of our body temperature (source). Try to make a habit of avoiding screens for at least one hour before bedtime.
If your sleep schedule is off, you may be tempted to take naps, especially if you’re not getting enough hours of sleep at night. However, napping during the day will just make it harder for you to fall asleep at night. If you’re really tired, try going for a brisk walk instead–the fresh air and exercise will rejuvenate you.
Limit your caffeine intake
Many of us rely on a strong cup of joe to get us going in the morning. However, your afternoon coffee break may be wrecking your sleep schedule. If you need caffeine to function, make sure to limit the amount and stick to the morning to get your fix until your sleep cycle is back on track.
Watch what and when you eat
The food we eat and when we eat it both effect our circadian rhythm. If you stick to a regular meal schedule, your sleep schedule will become more regular as well. Avoid eating, if you can, for at least 2 hours before bedtime. If you can’t resist a late-night snack, at least try to avoid sugary, spicy, or greasy foods, and instead opt for complex carbs, healthy fats, or protein.
Getting your sleep schedule back on track won’t be easy. However, a bit of determination and consistency can go a long way. Your body will likely need a few days to readjust, so be kind to it and have patience. Sweet dreams!