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7 Ways to Fix Your Sleep Schedule for the New Year [+1 Bonus!]

by Ann Ferguson

Getting the new year underway is a lot of work, especially if you haven't slept well in, well, ever. So, why not take the chance to start the year right with better sleep?

Fixing your sleep schedule isn't easy, but if you start early, you'll be on your way to better days (and even better nights!). But don't worry about starting all by yourself; see our tips on how to fix your sleep schedule!

How Your Sleep Gets Off Track

Woman unable to sleep with big clock behind her

There are plenty of reasons you might be having trouble getting the sleep you need — the most common reason being changes in light since our circadian rhythms are light-based. But there are other reasons, including: shift work, jet lag, hormonal changes, stress, medications, drinking too much alcohol, or dealing with sleep disruptors like disruptive partners, animals, or children.

Whatever the case, poor sleep can lead to serious health issues over time. In fact, a severely misaligned body clock and sleep schedule are considered a sleep disorder, so it's important to make changes soon.

Resetting Your Schedule

The path to reset your sleep schedule depends on what's causing your system to derail in the first place. But likely, if you've had insomnia for an extended period of time, the remedy will take several months. However, if you've been traveling a lot, adjusting your sleep schedule usually takes a day per time zone.

As for other causes, fixing your sleep schedule will take several steps. But hopefully, with these tips and plenty of time, you'll be on your way to sweet dreams in no time.

1. Slowly Scale Back

Start by going to bed just a few minutes earlier every two or three days, and add more time weekly until you reach your target time. Try to do this in regular 15-minute intervals so you don't force yourself to go to bed early when you're not tired.

This gradual approach will make the adjustment easier on your body, and it's less likely that you'll end up feeling groggy during the day because you'll have a full night's sleep.

2. No More Napping

Woman feeling sleepy in the daytime while working

Naps can be your enemy when you're trying to reset your sleep schedule and become an early riser! Even if you're sleepy during the day, avoid napping; it can further disrupt your circadian rhythm and throw off how well you sleep at night.

Instead, try exercising to keep your energy up. Or if you feel like you need to lie down or else, try limiting your naps to 20 to 30-minute increments between 1 pm and 3 pm.

3. Routine, Routine, Routine

Another step in fixing your sleep schedule requires establishing a consistent bedtime and wake time. Keeping to a routine is essential for syncing with your body clock. This means aiming for the same bedtime and wake time each night, no matter how tempting it can be to sleep in or stay up late when given the opportunity (especially on the weekends!).

To make your routine smoother, prepare a bedtime ritual that will set your mind into sleep mode, like reading 30 minutes before bed or getting your things ready for the next day. And make sure to plan for sleep disruptions ahead of time. So, if you know you're planning to travel or if you sleep with a partner who snores all night, plan ahead of time!

4. Bright Days, Dark Nights

Woman with eye mask in a dark room, deep asleep

Sometimes our most significant hurdle in fixing our sleep schedule is actually falling asleep — your brain doesn't magically turn off. So, ensure your bedroom is dark at night to help your body know when it's time to rest. And keep electronics out of the bedroom as much as possible; screens from phones, tablets, computers, and TVs give off blue light, which can mess with how well you sleep.

As for the mornings, you need bright light to help your body clock realize it's time to get up. Try to wake up to sunlight as much as possible with powered curtains on a timer, open the drapes after turning off the alarm, or step outside briefly. Exposing yourself to natural light is one of the best ways to reset your clock!

Pro Tip: Create the best sleeping environment by keeping your room cooler, well-ventilated, and with a comfy mattress.

5. Regular Exercise

No doubt you've heard it, but getting regular exercise helps promote quality sleep. Exercise increases how much slow-wave sleep (deep sleep) you experience each night and gives your mind and body a chance to recover and rejuvenate. It also helps reduce stress, which can majorly disrupt sleep.

Pro Tip: Morning workouts are the best for sleep, but mild yoga before bed is possible (there are even certain poses that can help you sleep!).

6. Limit Caffeine & Alcohol

When taken too much caffeine and alcohol are two major sleep disruptors of how well you sleep when taken too much. But rather than going cold turkey (who can live without caffeine?), try limiting yourself to only your morning cup of coffee. As for alcohol, try not to drink too much before bed, as it could alter your circadian rhythm.

Also, avoid eating before bed since your body will process the food slower and possibly cause indigestion!

7. Camping for Sleep

Three women camping

You might not think it, but camping is a great way to reset your circadian rhythm and get into a healthy schedule. Going camping limits your time with technological distractions or artificial light sources, which help regulate your sleep. Some studies found that camping for two days (like on a weekend trip) is enough to raise melatonin 1.4 hours earlier than usual and that participants maintained their camping sleep schedule.

Spending some time outdoors helps remind your body that it's time to wind down and get ready for rest because it's absorbing natural light-dark patterns instead.

BONUS: Goodbye Stress

As we said before, many things affect your sleep, but stress is the number one sleep disruptor. Too much stress causes us to lay in bed and worry through our problems instead of doing what we should be doing — sleeping! So, it's imperative that you address the cause of your stress to eradicate the problem.

But since that's easier said than done, you're betting on mitigating your stress before bedtime. You can try meditation for 10 to 15 minutes daily, journaling your issues, drinking something warm and calming before bed, reading a book, or practicing a mind-body scan — there's plenty you can do!

Pro Tip: If you find yourself stressing a lot when trying to sleep, get out of bed and find a different place to worry until you relax and feel sleepy. This way, you'll only associate the bed with sleeping, not stressing.

Good Sleep

So, now you have the steps on how to fix your sleep schedule! This isn't an overnight solution, but with patience and dedication, you'll be on your way to better days (and even better nights!). However, sometimes even with all these tips, it's not enough — your mattress is too uncomfortable. But don't worry; that's what Westco Home Furnishings is here for, with a wide mattress selection!

Have any questions about choosing the right mattress? Give our sleep experts a call — we'll help you find the best sleeping solution to start the near year right!