A good night’s sleep is determined by many things - whether you have the best mattress for your sleep position, a healthy lifestyle that keeps you busy, and maybe most importantly, whether your sleep schedule works for your routine.
A regular sleep schedule can be disrupted by many things, including the type of work you do, your stress levels, as well as travel. Your body craves routine and works best with a system, so as much as we’d like to think a midday nap can help us catch up on some rest, the truth is it’s far more important to have a consistent bedtime and rising time instead.
Here’s everything you need to know about what sleep experts mean by an ‘internal clock,’ why your sluggishness might just be because you’re not waking up at the right time, and how you can keep your sleep schedule working for you.
An internal clock, also known as our circadian rhythm, refers to the biological schedule our body tends to stick to. This schedule tends to control our energy levels, focus, and mood throughout the day. When your internal clock is on track or working productively, it ensures you feel tired in the evening and keeps you picking energy up through the day.
When your internal clock and sleep schedule are mistimed, it can make it challenging to fall asleep, or wake up, at the right time of day. When you’re sleep-deprived or jet-lagged, what you’re actually experiencing is your internal clock struggling to cope with an inconsistent schedule.
Staying on top of your sleep schedule and keeping a healthy internal clock is therefore crucial when it comes to getting work done productively, having consistent and healthy emotional responses, and even staying physically fit.
So how do you stay on top of your sleep schedule? One of the most important ways you can keep your sleep schedule consistent is by ensuring you’re able to achieve a good night’s sleep.
Most experts recommend you achieve eight hours of rest each night. This allows you to go through your sleep cycle at least five times, which is ideal if you want to wake up feeling well-rested. A single sleep cycle consists of something known as NREM and REM sleep, each responsible for different parts of your brain’s core processing and function.
Our sleep schedules might vary depending on what we need from our rest, but there are a couple of ways you can make sure you’re looking after your sleep hygiene in a way that is conducive to a healthy internal clock.
Here are some tips to keep in mind:
A lot of research indicates that manipulating light helps to reset the internal clock, which can be a useful tip if you’re experiencing a lot of jet lag.
Exposure to light activates a part of your brain called the SCN, which is the part of your brain responsible for increasing the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. This is why it’s important to expose yourself to light when you want to wake up, and throughout the day, and allow the lights to dim when you’re winding down for the night as well.
One way to take advantage of your body’s response to light is to make sure your bedroom stays dim and cozy. Try to stay away from the artificial blue light present in your phone or on other technological devices, since this can actually cause the production of melatonin in your body to be disrupted, leading you to toss and turn more than you’re actually able to sleep in a night.
Similar to light exposure, digestion also follows an internal clock that can be controlled in order to help stabilize your sleep schedules. In a study conducted at Harvard University, it was found that animals who were fed at different times of the day would shift their internal clocks to match their feeding time.
Fasting a minimum of twelve hours before breakfast and after dinner can help regulate your body, and ensure you’re primed for a good night’s sleep. If you plan on traveling and want to fight off any symptoms of jet lag, you can actually extend your fasting period to make sure your internal clock is only minimally disrupted.
Your comfort is important when you’re trying to go to sleep, and if you’re still laying down on the mattress you had ten years ago, chances are you’re not getting good quality sleep. A comfortable mattress can transform the quality and quantity of rest you get with ease, so try and make it a priority to invest in tools you know will get you closer to achieving this kind of sleep.
If you’re convinced you already have the most comfortable mattress for your rest, for example, think of other ways you might be able to get cozier in your space. If you struggle with sleep anxiety, weighted blankets can be a great way to improve the quality of your rest. Do you deal with consistent body aches? An adjustable bed frame might be able to help you offset extra pain and ensure you’re getting those eight hours each night.
Developing a bedtime routine can have you looking forward to resting every night, and keep your sleep schedule in order. You might consider incorporating a yoga routine before you go to bed each night to help stretch out your muscles and keep you calm. Taking a warm shower right before getting tucked in is another popular bedtime routine, since it brings your core body temperature down, allowing you to fall asleep faster and more comfortably.
As a general rule of thumb, it’s also a good idea to stay away from caffeine - switch to herbal teas that are decaffeinated for your best chance of getting a good night’s sleep. Since it’s wise to stay away from your phone before bedtime, listen to a sleep podcast, or try reading a book if your mind still feels active when you’re trying to wind down.
Fixing your sleep schedule is all about taking a disciplined, consistent and comforting approach to your bedtime routine. Once you have the most comfortable mattress for your rest, have organized your lighting and mealtimes, as well as found a bedtime ritual that gets you primed for the night, you’ll find sticking to your sleep schedule is easier than counting sheep!
How do you maintain your sleep schedule? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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Disclaimer. We love sleep and we want you to get the best sleep possible. But we do not provide medical advice. This blog is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical info, diagnosis, or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our blog.