How To Support Your Sleep Schedule: A Guide

Mar 10, 2022 Sleep Tips

How To Support Your Sleep Schedule: A Guide

Quick Health Scoop

  • Many factors, including both internal and external, affect your sleep quality and sleep quantity
  • While some factors are out of your control, you can do a lot to fix your sleep schedule, including making some simple lifestyle changes
  • Practicing good sleep hygiene involves healthy habits that impact your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep
  • Better sleep is certainly attainable when you make lifestyle changes to fix your sleep schedule

If you have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, you know how much a lack of sleep can impact you physically and mentally. The same holds true if you travel across time zones and experience jet lag, or if you’re a night shift worker and sleep during non-traditional hours. Sometimes, even if you don’t normally struggle with getting enough quality sleep, you might experience a few days, weeks, or even months of disturbed sleep or inconsistent sleep.

This totally throws off your internal body clock (a.k.a. circadian rhythm), which is your 24-hour sleep-wake cycle. Occasional sleep deprivation may lead to a variety of mental and physical health stresses on the body which may have negative health effects. [1]  

Wondering how to fix your sleep schedule when it’s out of whack? Read on to learn how to get back on track with a healthy sleep schedule.

Why Sleep Schedules Get Off Track

Many factors can affect your sleep quality and sleep quantity, influencing the number of awakenings throughout the night and limiting the depth of sleep. These include both internal and external factors, some of which you can control and some you can’t. Here’s a quick rundown of issues that could affect your sleep schedule: [2]

  • Age (Sleep quantity generally decreases and becomes more fragmented as you get older.)
  • Stress 
  • Medical and psychological conditions (especially accompanied by discomfort or chronic pain) 
  • Diet
  • Sleep environment (primarily light, noise, and temperature)
  • Exposure to light (including blue light emitted from electronic devices and the time shift of daylight saving time)
  • Shift work
  • Jet lag
  • Medications 
  • Other substances (think alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine)

How to Reset the Sleep Cycle

While you can’t change external factors (such as age), you can make some lifestyle changes that improve your sleep. 

For starters, you need to understand the key elements that cultivate relaxation, including a quiet environment, an inward focus, a passive attitude, and a comfortable position. 

Next, practice good sleep hygiene, which simply means following healthy sleep habits. This will help improve your sleep pattern and get you back to consistent, restful sleep.

Follow these tips to get back on track to a good night’s sleep. [3,4,5,6]

  • Establish a consistent bedtime routine. While this varies by individual, a sleep routine might include taking a warm bath, brushing your teeth, reading, or meditating. These wind-down activities signal to your body that it’s time to relax and prepare for sleep.
  • Stick to a consistent sleep schedule. To help reset your body clock, go to bed, and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends
  • Exercise during the day. This can lessen daytime sleepiness, making you ready to fall asleep once you climb into bed at night. 
  • Watch what you eat (and drink). Finish eating large meals two to three hours before bedtime, which allows your body adequate time to digest. Eat lighter snacks near bedtime if you’re hungry. Avoid alcohol close to bedtime, too, as this disrupts your sleep quality. And don’t drink too much of any liquid before bed, as this could cause you to wake up more frequently to go to the bathroom.
  • Limit screen-time before bedtime. The blue light emitted from electronic devices (think TV, laptop, and cell phone) tricks your mind into thinking it’s daytime. This could affect the body’s production of Melatonin, the hormone that promotes sleep.
  • Get your light right. Dim the lights to help cue the body that it’s time to transition to sleep. As part of your circadian rhythm, the body produces Melatonin, which increases as it gets dark and decreases as it gets light. Consider putting blackout curtains in your bedroom to keep your sleep environment dark.
  • Practice relaxation techniques. This might include gentle stretching, deep breathing exercises, or meditating. 
  • Avoid naps. When you get some shut-eye during the day, it can negatively impact your ability to fall asleep later.
  • Keep your room at a comfortable temperature. Some people like a cooler sleep environment while others prefer warmer temps. Do what works best for you

You might also consider natural sleep supplements aids (such as those containing Melatonin) to support sleep. Some newer supplements, like Nature Made Sleep Longer,™ combine Melatonin, GABA, and L-Theanine to help relax your mind, fall asleep faster, and stay asleep longer. Another new supplement, Nature Made’s Back to Sleep, combines just the right balance of Melatonin, L-Theanine, and GABA to help you relax and quickly fall back to sleep. 

Learn More: Can I Take Melatonin Every Night?

The Bottom Line

Whether or not you get a good night’s sleep depends on many variables, including both internal and external factors. If you’re wondering how to fix a sleep schedule, there's a lot you can do to improve both sleep quality and sleep quantity. Healthy sleep habits include establishing a consistent sleep schedule, following a bedtime routine, exercising earlier in the day, watching what you eat and drink, and more.

Continue to check back on the Nature Made blog for the latest science-backed articles to help you take ownership of your health.

Learn More About Sleep:

  • Can You Take Melatonin While Pregnant?
  • Does Melatonin Cause Nightmares?
  • Food to Help You Sleep
  • This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to serve as medical advice . Consult your health care provider for more information. 

    References

    1. Cleveland Clinic. “Here’s What Happens When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep (And How Much You Really Need a Night).” June 16, 2020. Accessed on: February 21, 2022. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/happens-body-dont-get-enough-sleep/ 
    2. Harvard Medical School’s Division of Sleep Medicine. “External Factors that Influence Sleep.” December 18, 2007. Accessed on February 25, 2022. https://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/science/how/external-factors 
    3. Harvard Medical School’s Division of Sleep Medicine. “Twelve Simple Tips to Improve Your Sleep.” December 18, 2007. Accessed on: February 22, 2022. https://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/getting/overcoming/tips 
    4. Mayo Clinic. “Sleep tips: 6 steps to better sleep.” April 17, 2020. Accessed on: February 22, 2022. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/sleep/art-20048379 
    5. Medline. “Changing your sleep habits.” February 18, 2022. Accessed on: February 24, 2022. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000757.htm 
    6. National Sleep Foundation. “Four Tips for a Better Night’s Sleep.” May 13, 2021. Accessed on: February 24, 2022.  https://www.thensf.org/four-tips-to-improve-sleep-quality/ 

    Authors

    Lisa Beach

    NatureMade Contributor

    Lisa Beach is a seasoned journalist whose work has been published in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, Eating Well, Parents, AARP’s Disrupt Aging, Optimum Wellness, and dozens more. She also writes for a variety of health/wellness-focused brands. Check out her writer’s website at www.LisaBeachWrites.com.

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    Lynn M. Laboranti, RD

    Science and Health Educator

    Lynn is a Registered Dietitian (R.D.) and is a member of the Medical and Scientific Communications team at Pharmavite. She has over 20 years of experience in integrative and functional nutrition and has given lectures to health professionals and consumers on nutrition, dietary supplements and related health issues. Lynn frequently conducts employee trainings on various nutrition topics in addition to educating retail partners on vitamins, minerals and supplements. Lynn has previous clinical dietitian expertise in both acute and long-term care, as well as nutrition counseling for weight management, diabetes, and sports nutrition. Lynn earned a bachelor’s of science in Nutrition with a minor in Kinesiology/Exercise Science from The Pennsylvania State University. She earned a M.S. degree in Human Nutrition from Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Lynn is an active member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Sports Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutritionists, Dietitians in Functional Medicine, and holds a certification in Integrative and Functional Nutrition through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

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