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Top 10 tips to fix your sleep schedule

By Josie Simon, October 27 2021—

Whether you are returning to campus or staying at home for the fall semester, chances are you or someone you know is struggling with sleep. While sleep issues are often trivialized, poor sleep has been linked to serious medical conditions such as depression, high blood pressure and diabetes. Moreover, those who struggle with sleep know that it can be a very isolating and frustrating experience.

Despite the reason your circadian rhythm has become thrown off, improving your sleep hygiene and developing sleep strategies can reset your internal clock and get you back to performing at your best. As someone who has struggled with insomnia, I’ve tried almost every trick in the book. Through the lens of my personal experiences, this article will explore 10 of the most helpful tips that I have learned to fix your sleep schedule. 

Track your sleep: 

One of the first steps you should take while attempting to fix your sleep schedule is to find out how many hours on average you are sleeping per night. As adults aged 18-64 need 7–9 hours of sleep per night, tracking your sleep can help you figure out how much of your daily schedule you should adjust to obtain the proper amount of rest. To help you track your sleep, I would recommend using an app called Alarmy. Alarmy is an alarm clock app that tells you how many hours of sleep you would receive depending on the time of your alarm. If you have been experiencing chronic sleep issues, it may surprise you how many hours you are either over or undersleeping. 

Establish boundaries with others: 

Maintaining a consistent sleep and wake schedule during the weekdays and the weekend is vital for quality sleep. However, if you often extend your energy to other people at the expense of your rest, you would likely benefit from setting boundaries with the people around you. Whether the person is your peer from a group project, a volunteer coordinator, a boss, a friend or a family member, setting boundaries regarding your availability will help you establish and maintain a sleep schedule.

Keep a piece of paper and pen by your bed to help with overthinking: 

If you find yourself losing sleep due to overthinking about an embarrassing moment, your interactions throughout the day, a big assignment or the future — you are not alone. As rumination can prevent us from falling asleep, writing out our thoughts on paper or in a journal can calm our anxiety and help organize our thoughts. By keeping a piece of paper and pen on your bedside table ready for nights of overthinking, you can potentially stop the cycle of rumination and get some much-needed rest. 

Avoid the cycle of procrastination and cramming: 

Whether you have in-person or online courses this semester, more than likely you have experienced the cycle of procrastination and cramming. Cramming for an exam or an important due date can destroy the consistency needed to maintain a healthy sleep schedule. To avoid this, schedule times to work on your coursework throughout the week. 

Place your alarm clock away from your bed: 

If you are struggling with oversleeping, try placing your alarm clock as far away from your bed as possible. As many of us use our phones as alarm clocks, we tend to place our phones very close to us while we sleep. If you are setting alarms but fail to wake up on time, you might be turning off your alarms and then falling back asleep. Placing your alarm clock away from your bed will force you to get out of bed and walk a couple of steps to turn it off. The physical task of getting up will wake you up more than it would if the alarm was beside you and thus reduce the chance of you oversleeping. 

Avoid wearing pyjamas during the daytime: 

While it may be tempting to wear pyjamas throughout the day, only wearing your pyjamas to sleep in can help send a message to our brains that it’s time for rest. 

Increase your daily movement: 

If you find it hard to fall asleep at night, try increasing your movement throughout the day. Movement can look like a lot of different things for a lot of different people. While it is recommended to receive 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least five times a week, it is important to remember that any movement is good movement. Whether increasing your daily movement is bike riding for 30 minutes a day or choosing to take the stairs instead of the elevator at work, increasing your daily activity can help you adjust your sleep schedule and feel more refreshed during the day.

Avoid napping: 

During periods when you are struggling with your sleep schedule, try to avoid napping. While you may feel the urge to nap, napping can make it harder to fall asleep at night. 

Limit your caffeine intake: 

As caffeine is a stimulant, consuming caffeine can impact your sleep by keeping you awake for long periods of time and affecting your sleep quality. Caffeine is found in drinks and foods such as coffee, tea, energy drinks, soda and chocolate. If you are struggling to fall asleep or wake up feeling tired, try avoiding caffeine four to six hours before bedtime

Know when to seek professional help: 

While it is normal to suffer from sleep issues occasionally, consider consulting with a doctor if you have been experiencing persistent challenges with oversleeping, getting enough sleep or getting quality sleep.

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