5 Ways To Build A Healthier Sleep Schedule

Aug 06, 2022

5 ways to build a healthier sleep schedule

(Photo by Samson Katt)

Sleep is one of the most important things in our lives. And it's also the first habit to go out the window if something in our lives changes. Your shift changes, so does your sleep. If you have an obligation or you're doing something fun, you might push your sleep back. You want to stay out later, but you know you still have to get up at the same time. 

We've all been there and it's just inevitable that sleep is the lowest on most of our habit lists. So why should you and how can you make it a higher priority? What might happen if you do?

Stop what you're doing and go to bed

Have you ever stayed up all night studying or prepping for a presentation, just to forget most of it the next day? Or noticed that your brain is feeling a bit "out of order" while you're working on something? Like it's in a fog or just lagging a bit? These are some big signs that you need more sleep. 

Think about it as if your brain is in a bath all day. When you sleep, it gets to wash away all of the gunk (soap, dirty water, etc) that it accumulated. If you don't get the sleep that you need, it's like your brain is just sitting in a tub filled with soapy, cold water. It gets a bit upset.

If you notice this foggy feeling or an inability to focus, there are a few ways to fix it. Take a look at how long you're sleeping, how the time you sleep varies, and the quality of your sleep. Answers to questions like these can give you insights into how you can change things for the better.

Nap your way to a better day

If you're feeling fatigued and you want to (not everyone is a fan), take a quick nap. It can help you to feel more refreshed and ready to take on the rest of the day. There is a right and a wrong way to nap though. Try to do it before 3pm, keep it short at 10-20 minutes, and make sure the room is dark and you're comfortable.

If you're not big into napping, try to go to bed a little earlier than you normally do. Your brain and your body need sleep.

If you're experiencing a higher need for a nap and there's no obvious cause of new fatigue, talk to your doctor. It could be a medication, a sleep disorder, or other medical condition that's disrupting your sleep. 

5 ways to build a healthy sleep schedule

Honestly, developing and adhering to a consistent sleep routine has so many benefits. Here are some recommendations for developing and sustaining a healthy sleep schedule:

  1. Try to get out of bed at about the same time everyday, including weekends and days off. Do the same with your bedtime, although this can take longer to develop.

  2. If you get into bed and after 20-30 minutes you are still awake, get up for a while and do something else. Don't train yourself to lie in bed for no reason.

  3. Don't watch shows or browse social media in bed. You want there to be a clear distinction between where you are entertained and where you sleep. If you don't make that distinction, your brain can get confused about what it's supposed to be doing. Some light reading is okay, but try to stay away from screens.

  4. Turn down or dim lights at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Shut off screens as well, they put out blue-light frequencies that are similar to daylight. This can confuse your brain about what time of the day it is.

  5. Do everything that you can to block as much outside light as possible. This is especially true if you work at night and sleep during the day. Our brains need darkness to produce melatonin, which helps you get healthy sleep. 

What next?

We also recommend a detailed episode on the podcast "FoundMyFitness." In this episode, Dr. Rhonda Patrick interviews Dr. Matthew Walker about his book Why We Sleep. You can find the link here.

Forming a habit takes discipline, repetition and dedication. The benefits are well worth it. Changing things in your life can be intimidating. Ease yourself into new behaviors. This will keep you focused on building healthy habits and raising your motivation. 

Continue Your Journey