Your sleep cycle can get thrown off its normal rhythm. If you’ve ever worked a late shift, travelled between time zones, or stayed up all night with a fussy baby, you know how groggy and out-of-sorts you feel the next day.
People with the delayed sleep phase syndrome have trouble getting up in the morning and going to bed at the right time. The body’s internal or biological clock can be reset, however, with the help of a few sleep strategies.
- Skip naps
Avoid taking them if you can, experts say. But if you feel so tired you can’t function, it’s OK to give into a brief snooze. But keep it to less than 20 minutes. It will refresh you but won’t take away from sleep later.
- Stop Eating for a Day
New research from Harvard Medical School indicates there may be a secondary food clock that functions as part of our overall circadian rhythm and takes over when we are hungry. Initial research shows that not eating for 12-16 hours can short-cut the normal triggers and reset the circadian rhythm using this food clock.
- Try light therapy
Consider “bright-light therapy,” a timed exposure to bright light in the morning. This should be done under a doctor’s care, as light intensity, timing, duration, and distance from the light source all need to be specific.
- Determine your desired waking time
Most people require 6 to 8 hours of sleep every night, but the exact duration of necessary sleep differs from person to person. Determine at what time you need to fall asleep in order to wake up at your desired waking time.
- Practice Good Sleep Hygiene
Sleep hygiene is similar to your end-of-day personal hygiene. Just like you wash your face and brush your teeth before bed, sleep hygiene is an umbrella term that covers all the things you do leading up to sleep that help or hinder restful sleep.