How to Fix Your Sleep Schedule
Sleep is essential if you want to live a healthy and balanced life. Yet in the Western world, people seem to glorify avoiding sleep as a badge of honor representing their growth, work, or otherwise.
There are tons of reasons why your sleep schedule can get off track, including traveling across time zones, staying up late, excess caffeine, or watching too much Netflix before bed. But what it all comes down to is that your internal body clock –– AKA your circadian rhythm –– is out of whack.
This isn’t something to take lightly. Circadian rhythm issues and poor sleep quality are associated with increased risks of cardiovascular, metabolic and cognitive diseases, poor quality of life, and mortality.
That said, there are proven ways to get yourself back on track and enjoy deep, rejuvenating sleep every night.
Avoid Blue Light Exposure Before Bed
The light emitted from cellphones, tablets, TV screens, or computers is considered ‘blue light’ and interrupts your body’s natural production of melatonin at night –– an essential hormone for regulating the physiological sleep cycle. Looking at screens before bed decreases your body’s natural production of melatonin. As a result, your circadian rhythm gets disrupted, making it harder to fall asleep and reducing overall sleep quality.
You could join the latest trendy health fad of wearing red-tinted glasses (they’re called ‘blue-light blockers) around your house at night or you could aim to avoid all blue-light emitting screens and bright lights at least one hour before bedtime. Dimming lights around your house will also help stimulate your body to produce more melatonin and get you drifting off to sleep with ease.
Set a Specific Wake-Up Time
An irregular schedule is a surefire way to disrupt your sleep schedule. The body is designed to function best in a consistent routine. The best way to get started with this is to pick a wake-up time that you can manage every day and stick to it.
It’s important to keep up with your wake-up time even on weekends or after late nights out. The more consistent you are with your wake-up time, the easier it is for your body to settle into a healthy sleep routine.
Prioritize Sleep in Your Daily Routine
Preparing your body for high-quality sleep starts from the moment you wake up and continues throughout the day. Your lifestyle can play a major role in your sleep schedule and quality.
One thing to focus on is to expose yourself to natural light throughout the day. Getting a healthy dose of sunlight in the morning can work wonders for regulating your circadian rhythm because it signals to your body that it’s time to wake up.
Also, be sure to keep moving! Along with a number of other health benefits, regular movement and exercise have shown to improve deep sleep quality. However, don’t exercise too late in the day or your body won’t have enough time to cool down before bedtime!
Watch What You Eat (and When You Eat It)
Certain eating habits are notorious for disrupting sleep. The biggest culprits are late-night snacking, caffeine, and alcohol. Eating late at night makes it harder to fall asleep because your body still has to digest that food! It sends the signal that you want to stay awake, not start winding down for bed.
Caffeine is a common afternoon pick-me-up, but you should avoid all caffeinated beverages after 12:00pm to keep your sleep schedule on track. It takes several hours for the body to process caffeine and it’s notorious for disrupting the release of melatonin at night.
Last but not least, alcohol is a severe disruptor of sleep quality. Still, as much as 20% of Americans rely on alcohol to fall asleep every night! While it might make you fall asleep quickly, it does not contribute to healthy, restful sleep. Alcohol disrupts your circadian rhythm, blocks beneficial REM sleep, and makes you wake up more frequently through the night.
Try a Natural Sleep Supplement
If you’re looking for an easy way to improve your sleep quality, supplementation can be a great approach. Taking a dose of melatonin before bed can alert your body that it’s time to start winding down for the day to prepare for sleep.
A natural way to get a similar effect is through a functional mushroom supplement or natural herbs. At Spore, we’ve combined Reishi –– a functional mushroom with a potent calming, anti-stress effect –– and natural sleep-inducing herbs like Chamomile, Valerian Root, and Lemon Balm to help you relax and unwind at the end of the day. Head over to our online shop and pick up our Chill Out blend to give it a try!
Optimizing your sleep is essential for your overall health and wellness. We spend a third of our lives in bed, so if your circadian rhythm isn’t aligned, it’s only going to lead to problems down the line. Focus on your sleep now and you’ll set yourself up to live your best life for decades to come.