Maintaining a Sleep Pattern and You
Trouble Getting to Sleep? You're Probably a Go-Getter!
'Just go to sleep earlier and wake up earlier' had always been the most confusing concept to me - I want to do it all right NOW and if I wait 'till the morning I'll have lost enthusiasm.
This is precisely the kind of thinking that leads me to be writing hubs or playing intense e-matches into the early hours of the morning.
At least, it was confusing to me until my sleep pattern crumbled into the haphazard swirl of hormonal misbalances it became - it was then that I realised that the real 'go-getters' were really the 'go wait until the morning'ers'
Indeed, maintaining a steady sleep pattern is one of the most difficult tasks I'm facing in my youth (yes, I appreciate just how spoilt this makes me) and it's one that I'm not giving up on!
This hub hopes to detail the best way to normalise your sleep pattern so that you're tired when you should be again.
The Lucky Few
The lucky few that want to go to sleep later each night will have a much better time than the majority of us who want the opposite - a less owllike existence.
If you want to force your body to stay up for longer all you have to do is surround yourself in a bright (the most important factor) and stimulating environment until you want to go to sleep every night.
Important Notes About Staying Up
- Don't drink coffee before bed
- Don't drink alcohol before bed (see here for research behind this)
Remember this because both of these products have been found to disrupt sleep and will hinder the effect of each hour snoozing.
In addition to the above:
- Don't exercise before bed
- Don't eat before bed
Again, both of these activities will disrupt your sleep but also make it harder to fall asleep in the first place.
How to Start Maintaining Your Sleep Pattern (for the rest of us)
First and foremost you must realise that you're going to feel uncomfortable. Changing your sleep pattern almost always involves discomfort, even though you might not have realised the discomfort when you ruined your sleep pattern in the first place (because staying up several nights in a row watching movies and eating high-cal foods in a sleepy state is a lot more pleasant than writhing around in your bedsheets hoping to get to sleep sometime soon).
The reason I say 'almost always' is because you can always just 'ease' your sleep pattern back to normal, sleeping 5 minutes earlier each night until you reach your desired time. This process may take several months or even more to accomplish depending on just how bad your sleep has become.
Yeah Right! I want to Maintain my Sleep Pattern in the Real World!
Thinking more realistically however and you probably want to start sleeping normally again within just a week to be ready for an upcoming exam, interview or important tournament.
Step One: set a time that you will go to bed every night. This time should be several hours before the time you're currently going to sleep, but after the time that you're striving for. Going to sleep at this new time is now a must and every minute past this time that you're not in bed should make you feel bad. You should note that going to sleep 5 hours earlier is going to be impossible because the body is actually very dependent on your sleep pattern.
This part is personal, some people claim they can go to sleep 4 hours earlier at any given day and sleep soundly. Others say that more than 30 minutes earlier than their normal time and they would lay in bed awake until their normal time anyway.
Step Two: as well as the time that you go to sleep, it's just as important to wake up at be same time each day. The importance of this is that your body needs to regulate your hormone levels when you wake up so if it 'knows' when you're going to wake up it'll do a much better job. It also means that if you disobey your bedtime you will suffer by hack h less sleep - and then you'll be extra tired and more likely to go to sleep on time the next day. Win-win.
This is the reason some people with bad sleep patterns will claim to have terrible nights sleep even after having slept twice as much as they normally would. Their bodies do not know when to release the 'wake' hormone and get rid of the copious amount of 'sleep' hormone that they accumulated overnight.
Your two goals then are 1. Pick a bedtime and stick to it and 2. Wake up at the same time every morning.
I've long advocated the use of naps because they truly are the most efficient way of getting sleep. That said, you should only use naps if you're dedicated to doing them properly. This means making them the same time. Every. Single. Day.
Any length of sleep will be integrated into your sleep pattern, so messing around with naps by making them irregular could make your problem even worse!
You should take note that 1x20 minute nap can take away up to 1 hour 30 of your sleep need at night, so remember to turn your alarm clock off if you wake up too early or you could get a very angry spouse!
Just to reiterate for those that missed it: naps. Very good if done right. Very bad if failed. High risk-high reward.
Some Last Few Tips
When trying to sleep earlier make sure that your surroundings are as optimal as possible for sleeping, this means:
- A cool temperature
- Ventilation in your sleep area
- No noise (use noise cancelling headphones or earplugs!)
- No light (use sleep masks!)
- A comfortable mattress