Throughout the day, our internal clock rotates between sleep and wakefulness. This 24-hour sleep-wake cycle is known as our circadian rhythm. Our internal clock is in a part of the brain called the hypothalamus. It responds to external cues that tell your body it’s time to go to bed. Sometimes, your circadian rhythm can get thrown off due to various reasons such as all-nighters, shift work and jet lag.
However, there are certain things one can do to improve the sleep wake cycle:
1.Get right with the light
One of the best ways to fix your sleep schedule is to limit your exposure to light. When you are exposed to light, your brain stops producing Melatonin, the sleep hormone. This makes you feel awake and alert. Darkness signals your brain to make more of it, so you feel drowsy. At night, prime yourself to sleep by turning off or dimming especially blue, bright lights. It is also beneficial to avoid glowing electronic screens, smartphones, or television, as they can stimulate your brain for several hours.
2.Make it a ritual
Aside from a consistent bedtime, you can also adopt certain rituals that your body can use to signal sleepiness. For example, washing your face, brushing your teeth, getting into pyjamas, night skin care routine, and reading can all be part of your nightly rituals.
For quality sleep, it is important to have a quiet sleeping environment. Loud, distracting noises can make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep as your brain continues to process sounds.
If your sleep schedule is messed up, avoid naps during the day. Napping can make it difficult to go back to sleep at night. If you must nap, aim for less than 30 minutes.
A late dinner can delay sleep, so eat your last meal two to three hours before bed.
Heavy, high-fat meals can also disrupt sleep because they take a while to digest. If you’re hungry, try having a light snack.
Remember to avoid caffeinated drinks like coffee, tea, or energy drinks before bedtime. As a stimulant, caffeine takes several hours to wear off and can disturb the sleep schedule.
A comfortable bed is the best sleeping environment for a good night’s rest. Having comfortable mattresses and pillows can really make a difference when it comes to a quality sleep. Generally, sleep experts suggest replacing your mattresses every 10 years and pillows every two years.
As mentioned earlier, Melatonin is a hormone that regulates your sleep wake cycle. It is normally made by the pineal gland in the brain, but it is also available as a dietary supplement. Being a natural sleep aid, it promotes relaxation and helps improve other sleep disorders such as insomnia and jet lag.
If you’re taking other medications or have other health conditions, must consult your doctor before using melatonin.