How to Reset Your Clock and Sleep Better

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How to Reset Your Clock and Sleep Better

Your internal clock regulates your sleep schedules and several things can change it so that you don't get the rest you need. Find out here on what you can do.

What Throws Your Sleep Off and How to Reset Your Body

Your internal clock regulates your sleep schedules and several things can change it so that you don't get the rest you need. Find out what you can do to reset your clock and wake up rejuvenated each morning.

How to Reset Your Clock and Sleep Better

Sleep patterns tend to stay the same and you get sleepy about the same time each night and wake around the same time each morning--even if you don't set a clock. If you start pulling all-nighters or traveling across time zones, your body's internal clock will not follow consistent sleep patterns. Fortunately, you can retrain your body to adjust to the best sleep patterns for your health.

How Does Your Internal Clock Work?

Your internal clock regulates itself by the internal cues you give yourself. It is dependant on when you set your alarm to get up, when you are most active during the daytime, when you eat and when you lie down to sleep at night. As such, you can send your body signals to make a change in your sleep pattern, such as wanting to stay up for one more episode of a show you are streaming.

Your body clock regulates your body's circadian rhythm--the patterns of mental, physical, behavioral changes and sleep patterns. Hormone secretion, your body temperature and the external factors of light and dark also regulate these.

What is the Relationship between Light and Sleep?

Your internal clock is located in your brain's hypothalamus, which receives light information from the retinas in your eyes. It then sends the signals to other parts of the brain including the gland that releases melatonin to signal you to go to sleep. Light suppresses your melatonin and makes you want to stay awake. Any form of light works in this way, whether it is the sunlight or light from any glowing screen.

Why Do Sleep Schedules Go Away?

Your sleep schedule can be disrupted by the amount of light you get each day. How much sunlight and what types of light you are exposed to at night before bed play a large factor in your sleep schedule.

Staying up later than normal for just one night can also throw off your sleep pattern by asking your body to stay up and sleep at different times than your internal clock does.

This isn't so problematic in itself, but over time, people have been shown to have several chronic health problems such as diabetes, depression, bipolar disorder, seasonal affective disorder, obesity and other sleep disorders.

How to Reset Your Sleep Schedule

There are several things you can do to reset your sleep schedule.

Adjust Your Bedtime

If you want to go to bed earlier and thus get up earlier, you can adjust your bedtime--but slowly. Adjust your bedtime to be no more than 15 minutes earlier for two to three nights. Keep adjusting it in these small increments until you reach the desired bedtime.

No Naps

No matter how tired you think you are in the day, don't take a nap. Napping interferes with your going to sleep each night. A good idea is to try exercising for a few minutes if you are sleepy in the day to chase away your sleepiness.

Don't Sleep In

You may feel the need to "catch up" on your sleep on a weekend, but this makes matters worse. No matter what day of the week it is, use an alarm clock and don't hit the snooze button so that you get up the same time every day of the week. You may need a reason to get up at the same time, such as a hobby on weekends that you can look forward to, or a special breakfast.

Avoid Evening Light Exposure

Any exposure to light before bedtime is shown in multiple studies to interfere with your ability to get to sleep quickly. Avoid outdoor light and bright lights close to bedtime--this includes cell phone, laptop and TV screen lights. You can dim or turn off lights about a half hour before you want to go to bed to help you get to sleep on time and adjust your sleep schedule.

Avoid Some Items Close to Bedtime

Don't exercise close to bedtime, as it wakes you up and disrupts your sleep. Also, avoid heavy meals close to bedtime, as your body needs time to digest your food and this can avoid heartburn that can keep you awake. You should also avoid caffeine and nicotine near bedtime as these can keep you awake.

Try Melatonin

You can get melatonin over the counter for a supplement to tell your brain to go to sleep, which in turn, tells your body to go to sleep. You should check with your doctor first to make sure this doesn't interfere with any other medications you may take.

Try Light Therapy

Light therapy is the newest form of relief for adjusting your sleep schedule and circadian rhythm. It works by subjecting your body to a bright light as soon as you wake in the morning. It's the same brightness as if you were taking a walk on a beach about 40 minutes after sunrise. Most people find relief by sitting in front of the light box 10 minutes after waking for about 30 minutes.

These tips and tricks can help you to reset your inner clock so you can get enough sleep and at the times that work best for your particular schedule. You will also benefit from any additional sunlight you get in the day, such as parking outside of the parking garage and taking that 10-minute walk to your building.