There are things you can do to better control your circadian rhythms and get your melatonin production and sleep schedule back on track.
Get More Exposure To Light During The Day
- Take your sunglasses off. Unless it’s very glary, you really don’t need to wear sunglasses in the morning. Why not take them off and let light onto your face.
- Get outside more often during the day. Schedule in some time to do things outside during the day such as going for a walk.
- Lighten up your home or place of work. Open up your blinds and curtains during the daytime. Where possible, move your desk or workstation closer to windows.
- When attending meetings, sit closer to natural light sources. If you attend meetings during the day, try and sit closest to windows and natural light sources.
Increase Production Of Melatonin At Night-Time
- Turn off your television and computer. It’s very common for lots of people to relax and unwind by coming home from work or school to watch TV or go on the home computer. The light emitted from these devices can hinder the body manufacturing melatonin and over-stimulate a person, instead of relaxing them. A better option to ensure you become relaxed and ready for sleep is to listening to music, read a book or do some low – mild relaxation exercises. Avoid trying to stay up late at night to watch a TV program. Record it instead – your proper rest is more important.
- Avoid using a back lit ebook reader at night. If you use an eReader at night try and use one that isn’t back lit. Instead use an external source of light to read it with such as a bedside lamp.
- Reduce the wattage on your light bulbs. Where appropriate, use lower-wattage bulbs at night before going to bed.
- Darken the room before going to bed. You’ll get off to sleep better if the room is dark when the lights are off. Block off electrical displays or pilot lights, make sure curtains and blinds are drawn around windows. If need be you can use an eye mask (like the ones you get on flights) to cover your eyes.
- Use a torch to make your way to the bathroom at night. Keeping light to a minimum will make it easier to get back off to sleep if you need to get up to go to the bathroom during the night. Safety first! – turn on room lights if it’s unsafe just to use a torch.
Maintaining A Regular Sleep Schedule
Synchronizing yourself with your natural circadian rhythm is an important way for getting good sleep. Most people find that if they go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, they will feel more refreshed, energized, and raring to go than if they sleep a similar number of hours but at varied times. Studies have shown that this also applies even if a person varies their normal sleep pattern by only an hour or two. Getting into a consistent routine for sleeping is important and will pay dividends.
Some pointers for keeping a regular sleep schedule include:
- Settling on a routine bedtime. Take yourself off to bed at the same time each night. Select a time when you usually feel tired and ready to flake. That way you won’t toss and turn as much. Weekends can often interfere with bedtime routines but try and stick to your set time every night. People wanting to alter their set time for sleeping should look to vary their bedtime in small chunks of time (e.g. quarter hour steps) over a period. This way, your body has a chance to adjust properly.
- Wake up at the same time every day. You should ordinarily wake up of your own accord without relying on an alarm if you’re getting sufficient sleep. If you rely on an alarm clock to awaken you, try and set an earlier bedtime.
- Have a nap if you lose sleep at night. If you find you need to reclaim a few hours of lost sleep, try and have a nap during the day (if possible) instead of sleeping late. By taking this measure you can settle your sleep debt without interfering with your natural circadian rhythm, which can backfire in the form of insomnia and get you out of kilter for some time.
- Nap sensibly. For some people, napping from time to time is an effective way to recharge your batteries, (particularly where older people are concerned). However, depending upon how much napping some people get, it can worsen insomnia. If you need to take a nap, it is best to have it early in the afternoon. Try and limit it to half an hour. Otherwise, try and cut it out of your routine.
- Learn to sleep on your back. There are many advanges for your body and general well-being in sleeping on your back.
Combat after-dinner drowsiness. Some people get drowsy before their proper bedtime. If this applies to you try and do some activity (chores, conversation, anything) that is not too over-stimulating. If you let the drowsiness take hold, you might find yourself waking later at night after you’ve gone to bed and experience difficulty returning to sleep.