Whether you've just traveled abroad or recently pulled an all-nighter, finding out ways to get your sleep cycle back on track can be a challenging feat. And while sleeping until late in the afternoon can seem ideal, feeling groggy in the morning before heading into the work is just plain awful. It's a fact of life for many that, in between answering emails, hanging out with friends, and accomplishing errands, it can seem nearly impossible to do everything all in one day. And even though it might seem harmless to skip out on a few hours of sleep to accomplish more tasks, you're actually not allowing your body to recoup for the next day.
"While sleeping appears (at least from the outside) to be an 'inactive' time for the body, the truth is that the body is taking care of a lot of important processes while we snooze! During our nightly slumber, our body restocks our hormones, processes toxins, repairs damaged tissue, generates white blood cells for immunity, and refreshes us from the stress/emotional turmoil we may have experienced during the day," says founder of Moss Wellness and certified holistic nutritionist Andrea Moss in an interview with Bustle over email. Rather than throwing back energy drinks or drinking your fifth cup of coffee of the day, use some of these tips below to get your circadian rhythm back on track so you can rest easy and wake up feeling refreshed.
1. Keep Lights Low Or Completely Turned Off
Your natural circadian rhythm responds to the amount of light you receive and if you choose to expose yourself to a large amount of light before you go to bed, it could disrupt your sleeping cycle. "Start dimming lights at least one hour before bed. Turn off devices, and lower lights in your environment to help your body produce sleepy-time melatonin," says Moss
2. Try Not To Watch TV Before You Go To Bed
One of the best things you can do to get your sleep cycle back on track is by simply turning off any electronic devices right before you go to bed. You want your brain to rest rather than keeping it active. "Turn off the TV a good hour before you try to fall asleep (bonus points if it can be two hours before bed!)," says Moss
3. Refrain From Reading Work Emails
Don't let your work life control what time you go to bed. It's important to know when to stop for the day so you can fully recharge. "Stop reading emails at least one to two hours before you try to fall asleep. There's nothing worse than reading a stressful work email right before you hit the pillow," says Moss.
4. Stick To Activities That Will Relax You
Rather than playing a game on your phone or watching your favorite TV show, do things that you're not that excited about to lull you right into sleep. "Do 'boring' things like folding laundry, emptying a dishwasher, flipping through mail catalogs. Choose activities that help you relax and don't overstimulate you," says Moss.
5. Don't Exercise Right Before Bed
"Avoid strenuous exercise at least three hours before bed. Exercise boosts endorphins which can make us feel revved up and energized — not the best feeling when you're looking to hit the hay," says Moss. Do your exercise routines early in the morning to get that extra jump of energy rather than at night.
6. Keep Your Bedroom Cool
For your body to properly rest, it needs to be in a colder environment so you body can cool down. "When it's too hot in a bedroom, sleep can be disrupted throughout the night. Most of us do best in a room that's around 65 degrees," says Moss.
7. Keep A Gratitude Diary
Sometimes writing your thoughts down will help relax your mind from wondering all over the place. "Before bed, spend some time thinking about what went well that day and what you appreciate in your life. This can help us relax and feel more at ease," says Moss.
8. Use Magnesium
As sleeping pills can sometimes do more damage to your sleep cycle than good, it's best to stick to natural minerals and vitamins so you can have a well-rested night. "Magnesium is an amazingly calming mineral that helps relax tight muscles and ease tension (both physical and emotional). Consider trying a before-bed beverage like 'Calm' to help ease you into more restful, peaceful sleep," says Moss.
9. Change Your Diet
Your diet can really determine how your body functions throughout the day. Be particular about when you have caffeine or sugar, because it can alter your sleep pattern and make you restless. "Try to keep your last meal a good two hours before trying to fall asleep, and avoid caffeine after 3 p.m. (earlier if you know you're very sensitive to it)," says Moss.
10. Write A To-Do List The Night Before
If you're the type of person that's constantly thinking on overdrive, lock away all those thoughts into a notebook so you already know what you need to do for the next day. "If you find your mind wandering to specific 'to-do's' or worries, take a few minutes to record anything you want to focus on the next day. This will help it get out of your mind and into a safe space, allowing you to let go and chill out (knowing it's safely recorded and can be reviewed the next morning)," says Moss.
11. Wake Up The Same Time Every Day
According to WedMD, director of the Sleep-Wake Disorders Center at the Montefiore Medical Center Michael J. Thorpy, MD said, "You can’t always control when you fall asleep, but you can decide when you start your day. Having a regular routine sets the tone for your body for the whole day." While you may never be able to catch up on sleep, you do want to take charge of when you wake up so you don't continue to stay up all night because you decided to sleep till three in the afternoon.
12. Change Your Setting
Don't let your mind control your sleep schedule. If you're having a hard time falling asleep, get up and do something else to help ease your mind. "If it is taking you longer than 20 minutes to fall asleep, get up and change your setting," says director of dialectical behavior therapy at Behavioral Associates. Anya Shumilina, LMSW in an interview with Bustle. "The worst thing you can do to your body is to keep tossing and turning. In that scenario, almost always, you are going to end up feeling frustrated and more anxious. Leave your room, splash some water on your face, and engage in mundane activities that will distract you, but wont excite you enough to wake you up. Go back to bed, and repeat if needed."
13. Control Your Thoughts
Rather than letting your stressors keep you awake at night, talk to yourself by acknowledging that there's nothing you can do about them right now. "If you are finding yourself worrying about the past or thinking about the future in the night, label these thoughts as 'middle of the night' worries." says Shumilina. "The idea is that you want to label your thoughts and tell yourself that you'll get to them tomorrow. You can keep repeating this until your thoughts dissipate."
If you find that your sleep schedule has been off lately, use these tricks and hopefully you'll be back on track so you can get a restful night sleep.