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Resetting Your Sleep Schedule

Do you ever go to bed saying to yourself, “Tomorrow is the day that I’ll wake up when the alarm goes off?”

And then, the clock strikes six, the alarm buzzes, and you fumble around looking for the snooze button.

Maybe you even put the alarm across the room to encourage you to get up and stay up. But, for whatever reason, you can’t seem to bounce out of bed.

It could be that your body clock is out of sync, making sticking to a regular schedule more challenging than it needs to be. Whether you’re staying up too late, struggling to get out of bed in the morning, or you’re burning the candle at both ends, Murray County Medical Center wants to give you plenty of helpful tip to reset your sleep schedule:

Use Bright Light in the Morning

Your body’s clock is “set” by cues like light, darkness, and when you eat or exercise. Light is the strongest of these cues. It tells your brain whether it’s night or day, and that tells you when to sleep. When you wake up, turn on bright lights and throw open the curtains to bring in daylight.

Dim the Lights in the Evening

Too much light at night pushes your sleep time later. To cut down on light at night.

Keep lighting low near the end of the day. Turn off bright overhead lights.

Ban laptops, tablets, cell phones, and TVs from your bedroom — and don’t use them in the hour or so before sleep. There is new research that shows that light specific to electronics can disrupt your circadian rhythm, so get those screens away from your bedroom.

Time Your Meals

When you eat may affect your internal clock; shifting meal times may help you handle changes in time zones or work schedules. When you’re planning to travel, consider the time differences and adjust your meal schedule accordingly. Re-setting meal time helps some ease jet lag. At home, keep a regular routine for meals and exercise. That helps set a pattern for your internal clock and your sleep cycle.

Limit Your Time in Bed

Go to bed and get up at about the same times, even on weekends. Save the bed and bedroom for sleep, not for excessive napping, watching television or playing video games!

Limit Caffeine

You may be tempted to use caffeine to get over the afternoon hump. Don’t. Instead, avoid caffeine after lunch, as it can affect your sleep that night.

Adapt for Travel by Shifting your Sleep/Wake Cycle

You can take the edge off jet lag, especially when traveling east, by shifting your sleep before you leave.

If you don’t adapt your Sleep/Wake cycle ahead of time, do it as soon as you get there—get on that local time as quickly as possible.

Ask Your Provider About Melatonin

Melatonin is a powerful hormone that your brain makes at night to help bring on sleep. A melatonin supplement may help, but be careful. Don’t self-medicate with melatonin! Get your provider’s advice on whether you should use it, what dosage, whether you are a candidate for prolonged-release melatonin and the best time to take it.

Go Low-Tech

High-tech devices that monitor your sleep cycle promise better sleep — like wrist or head bands that monitor your sleep cycle to find the best moment to wake you. But you might not need a fancy device.

Blackout shades, a soft fan to drown out noise, eye mask, ear plugs and unplugging the telephone are other low-tech and inexpensive options.

Get Help

If you try these tips, practice good sleep hygiene and still have sleep problems, talk to your provider. Restorative sleep is a serious health matter and you may have more complicated issues that need medical attention. There are many options to help treat sleep disorders, so you don’t need to just suffer! Murray County Medical Center has an accredited sleep study program that can help.

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