How to Fix Your Sleep Schedule?

Adults need to sleep between seven to nine hours every night for optimal mental and physical health. One of the best ways to get consistent sleep is to follow a healthy sleep routine. Ideally, our body should feel sleepy around the same time every night. However, unfortunately, many factors can disrupt our sleep schedule or sleep routine.

Sleep schedules may vary from person to person and depend on signals we send to our bodies like it’s not time to go to bed. Indirectly, we are telling our bodies to adjust our sleep schedules when we send them these signals and instruct them to stay awake. One can create healthy habits to promote sleep and with repetition, these habits can be converted into a sleep routine.

In this article, let us understand the relationship between the body clock and sleep schedule, what factors contribute to disturbing your sleep schedule and how you can fix them.

Role of Circadian Rhythm in a Sleep Schedule

Our body's internal clock regulates the circadian rhythm which is a sleep-wake cycle. This rhythm manages the balance between sleep and wakefulness, keeps us alert or drowsy at the appropriate times and establishes our sleep schedule. Our body's master clock is located in a part of the brain which can send light signals to the brain and instruct if it is time to sleep or not.

Light is an important factor in regulating the sleep cycle as it suppresses the production of melatonin hormone. This hormone is directly involved with sleep initiation. If the light signals are sent to the brain which may include sunlight, glowing computer or cell phone screens, you will not feel sleepy and this disrupts the sleep schedule.

Factors That Can Disturb Your Sleep Schedule

Our sleep schedule can be thrown off due to various reasons. Apart from sensitivity to light, there are some other factors as well that we have to look out for if we want to get our sleep schedule on track.

  • Night shift work − People working the night shifts are required to stay awake through the night and sleep when the sun is out. This drastically disturbs the circadian rhythm.

  • Jet lag − When people have to travel across multiple time zones, jet lag occurs and disturbs the internal body clock.

  • Artificial light exposure − Constant exposure to indoor lighting and light emanating from electronic devices can interfere with signals that are conveyed for sleep initiation.

  • Fluctuating sleep hours − Busy work schedules or other commitments have changed the sleep schedule of many people. They don't have a set bedtime or wake-up time. Additionally, the sleep schedules of people may change from one day to the next or between weekdays and weekends. This prevents establishing a consistent sleep pattern.

  • Delayed sleep timing − Some people may get up quite early, while some people tend to stay awake for a long time at night. As a result, their sleep phase or sleep timings are shifted forward or backwards by several hours.

  • Stress − Sleeping problems can also be related to stress, anxiety, depression or other emotional and mental health issues. These health conditions can prevent the development of a healthy sleep schedule.

  • Caffeine and energy drinks − Some energy drinks and caffeine acts as stimulants and may help people feel alert. However, they can upset our body's sleep-wake cycle and make it difficult to fall and stay asleep

  • Behavior − Staying up late or waking up early for studies, deciding to play sports or taking part in social activities which keep us awake for a long time can throw off normal sleep routine.

Now that we have understood the factors that can disturb our sleep schedule, let us learn how to fix them effectively to fix our sleep routine.

How to Reset Your Sleep Schedule?

If you have fallen into a sleep schedule that is not working for you, try taking these steps to get your sleep patterns on track.

Be Mindful of Light Exposure

When our body is exposed to light, our brain stops producing melatonin (sleep hormone) and this makes us feel awake. Darkness can tell our brain to produce more melatonin so that we feel sleepy. Thus, at night, train yourself for sleep by turning off or dimming bright lights in your bedroom. Also, avoid the usage of electronic devices before sleeping.

In the morning, you can expose yourself to natural sunlight by opening the curtains or taking a walk or relaxing on the porch.

Practice Regular Relaxation

When the body is stressed or anxious, it produces the stress hormone called cortisol. The higher the stress hormone, the more awake we feel. Creating a relaxing bedtime ritual can reduce stress and protect our bodies from the negative effects of stress. You can indulge in yoga, stretching, meditation or deep breathing before going to bed.

Avoid Naps

Napping can make it challenging for the body to go back to sleep at night. If you feel tired and must nap, aim for less than 30 minutes and do it before 3 pm. This will prevent nighttime sleep disruptions.

Commit to Daily Exercise

Most of our body tissues are linked to our biological clock and so when we work out, our muscles respond by aligning with the circadian rhythm. Regular exercise can help in promoting melatonin production. You can incorporate at least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic exercises to improve your sleep quality. Nevertheless, do not exercise at night and ensure to do any physically tiring activity at least two hours before bedtime.

Eat Early and Wisely

A late dinner can delay your sleep, so eating dinner two to three hours before bed is advisable. Also, one must avoid eating high-fat meals which take time to digest. Also, avoid caffeinated drinks and alcohol as they can keep you awake for a long time. If you feel hungry at night, eat a light snack which is a combination of carbohydrates and protein.

Be Comfortable

A comfortable sleeping environment is essential for a good night's rest. Change your mattresses or pillows if they are causing aches and pains or making you feel stiff when you wake up. Furthermore, before bedtime, the body temperature drops and a cool bedroom can help you feel comfortable. Keep the room temperature between 15 to 19°C (60 and 67°F) to doze off.

A quiet sleeping environment can help in getting good sleep. Ear plugs are also a good choice to block outside sounds. Ensure that your cell phone is on the silent setting and all the electronic devices are turned off there is only white noise in the room. White noise is a steady and soothing sound which can come from a fan, air conditioner, humidifier or air purifier.

Consult Your Doctor

Not getting sleep can cause physical and mental damage. If you have consistent sleeping problems, talk to your healthcare provider and know the cause of your sleep difficulties. A doctor can recommend therapies or strategies to fix your sleep schedule


There could be many factors like night shift work, jet lag, stress or light exposure that can disrupt the sleep schedule. Fortunately, practicing good sleep habits can get the sleep routine on track. A healthy sleep schedule can be maintained if you ensure a comfortable sleep environment, avoid naps and indulge in relaxation as well as regular exercise.

Updated on: 09-Mar-2023


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