It’s official, having enough sleep is important for the human body to function well. People with less than the required amount of sleep daily end up setting themselves up for a breakdown or worse. Sleep deprivation has been known to cause health conditions like diabetes, hypertension, and even psychosis in some situations.
Knowing this, it’s more important than ever that everyone has a sleep schedule with a set time to wake up and fall asleep.
Some people still struggle to sleep and wake up early, even with sleep schedules. In most cases, the impediment to getting a good night’s rest is you.
Some normalized behaviours sabotage the sleep schedule and make it challenging for you to wake up early. We’ll be discussing eight of these habits.
Mentally Stimulating Games
Mentally stimulating games like puzzles, chess, cards, monopoly and scrabble may seem like the best after-dinner activity, especially if you live with your family. What better way to end your day than having fun and buying prime monopoly real estate?
Studies have shown that engaging in mentally stimulating games can affect your bedtime and the body’s gradual winding down at the end of the day. Towards the end of the day, the brain becomes less alert and enters a lassitude period as it prepares the body for bed. Engaging in these mentally stimulating games’ perks’ the brain up and puts its bedtime preparation back by 30 minutes to an hour.
In addition, these games increase the chances of having vivid dreams that may disrupt your sleep.
Try the following activities in place of mentally stimulating games:
- Listening to soft music.
Lack of a Nighttime Routine
The brain is signalled by the approaching evening that it is time to wind down and go to sleep. A nighttime routine has the same effect on the brain. If you consistently read a book before sleeping while lying on your bed, your brain accepts it as a signal for sleep. So, the brain would interpret it as bedtime if you try to read a book during lunch while lying down.
What this says is, having a bedtime routine is an excellent way to stick to your sleep schedule. Sleeping between a fixed time can also be part of your routine. Some activities to include in your routine are meditating, wearing comfy nightwear, dimming the lights, mediating and taking a supplement to wake up easier.
Long Daytime Naps
Few things are as refreshing as long daytime naps. They always seem to leave you clear-eyed and satisfied with that sweet lethargic feeling. As good as they are, they might be why you aren’t getting enough sleep at night and your days are starting to get tired.
When you sleep in the afternoon or early evening, you disrupt your body’s circadian rhythm, and when you wake up, you feel refreshed and alert. When nighttime rolls around, you’ll be more alert than you should be, and your brain will still be primed to ‘work’ for a few more hours. This is why most people find it hard to sleep at night after a long afternoon or evening nap. The downside to this is that you start your morning tired and groggy.
Naps aren’t the enemy, though, so if you need some respite during the day, having a short nap of 30mins to an hour is an excellent way to get refreshed without sabotaging your sleep schedule.
Late Night Snacking
The ideal thing to do is to stop eating 2 hours before bedtime. But for some people, late-night snacking is a rite of passage, and that’s okay because some snacks even help you sleep better at night. So, you don’t have to give it up. The trick is to eat snacks that don’t affect your sleep schedule. Avoid snacks high in sugar, salt, and high saturated fat. This pretty much covers chocolates, chips, and other fatty snacks.
Healthy snacks that can improve your sleep include avocado, cheese, and yoghurt. The next time you feel peckish before bedtime, try a healthy charcuterie board.
Exercising should be a staple in your daily routine. It keeps you alert during the day, increases your metabolism, keeps you fit, and now helps reset your circadian rhythm.
Studies at Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep prove that exercising improves sleep time and quality. However, the trick is in the timing. Exercising in the morning and early afternoon seems to be the ideal time. Late evening exercise might affect your sleep schedule if you retire early. A good rule of thumb would be to exercise for 1 to 2 hours before sleep. That way, the body would have wound down from the stimulation caused by exercising.
Ditching Your Weekly Routine
After a week of going to bed and waking up early to meet up with your work schedules, the weekend feels like a mini holiday. Many people start their mini weekend vacation with a Friday happy hour which may or may not end up with a morning hangover on Saturday.
The weekend might feel like a mini-vacation but throwing your sleep schedule to the wind is not the best. For one, you have to go through an adjustment period for the first two days of the week or more if your body is more resistant to change.
Secondly, if you’re trying to fix your circadian rhythm with a sleep schedule, ditching it can throw you off and delay your progress.
This doesn’t mean you must wake up with the birds daily. You can relax your schedule a bit without totally upheaving it.
Too Much Thinking
It’s common for people to fall asleep to thoughts of their day or plans for the next day. Most people think until they wake up the next morning, unable to pinpoint when they went to sleep.
Thinking so much before bedtime might mess up your sleep schedule if you’re a worrier. Instead of worrying, write a to-do list and plan the day. This way, you feel more comfortable and in control of the coming day. You could also try meditating and some yoga to calm your mind.
Some scents encourage sleep, while others don’t. Think of the essential oils you associate with calm and sleep, like chamomile and lavender. Using some of these scents in your room can encourage your body to wind down. Pour some drops into a diffuser or light a candle to fill your room with these calming scents.
Calming scents to use:
- Ylang Ylang;
Some scents to avoid include jasmine, peppermint, rosemary, and citrus.
Falling asleep is a complex process. On the one hand, the body goes through a complicated process involving hormones, night light and the eyes to initiate sleep. On the other hand, as mundane as they seem, human activities can throw off these processes and change the sleep cycle. To avoid sabotaging your sleep cycle, take note of the eight activities outlined above.