Your sleeping pattern may have been screwed up by travel, working shifts, staying up late once too frequently, or perhaps a few sleepless nights due to illness or trouble sleeping.
It might just be a case that you have had a long break and it’s now time to get back to work or school, so you need to fix your sleeping pattern quickly.
Step 1 – Good Bed Time Habits
There are many reasons why you might be having trouble sleeping. You may be stuck in a cycle of sleepless nights, or perhaps you have insomnia as part of a medical condition.
Whatever the case, good habits at bed time are crucial. You can actually train your brain to expect certain things to happen by your behavior. The brain is a remarkable organ and is very ‘plastic’, in that it can change in response to changes in the environment.
Here are the most important things for a consistent plan to train your brain:
- A regular bed time
- A regular wake time
- Keeping a routine of activities before bed (having a shower, brushing your teeth or reading)
Give at least 2 weeks to settle into your routine. It takes time for your brain to adapt to a new routine. As you’ll be going to bed and trying to sleep after your routine, this signals to your brain that it’s time to sleep and sets the wheels in motion.
Aim for 7 to 8 hours a night as that is a healthy amount that the body needs to recuperate and function properly. Avoid naps during the day if you can, especially if they are at irregular times as that will interrupt your sleeping pattern.
Step 2 – Set Up A Good Sleep Environment
The place that you sleep in must be conducive to a good night’s rest. You should be comfortable, relaxed and free of distractions in this environment. Make it the room you sleep in, not the room you watch TV or work on your laptop in.
Try to control the temperature of your room to a cooler air, between 65 and 70 degrees F. You may prefer something slightly different, so experiment to find what works for you. Allowing fresh air to circulate through the room by opening a window a tiny bit will give ventilation and be an enormous help as well.
Keep your room as dark as possible. Your body has an internal mechanism that relies on light signals to determine your circadian rhythms. This is your body’s 24-hour clock and regulates many things including hormone release. You could block your curtains or wear an eye mask for example.
If sounds bother you, you could mask them with a white noise machine, CPAP mschine or a fan in the room, or just wear ear plugs. Another alternative is to play a special CD with soothing background music and sounds.
Wear comfortable, non-constrictive clothing so you don’t get woken up in the night. This is especially important for infants but don’t neglect it for yourself.
Finally, consider hiding your clock face or any other glowing equipment. Blue light is possibly interfering with your sleep patterns, and constantly watching the clock as you try to sleep is no help either.
Step 3 – Sleep Equipment
The final piece of the puzzle to reset your sleep cycle are the things you use to sleep – your pillow, bedding, mattress and the clothes you sleep in (as I just alluded to).
One of the most important aspects is your mattress. It needs to be firm enough to support your back. Make sure it does not sag through the bed frame but is completely supported up. The mattress should also be big enough for your body. You don’t want to be curling up on a mattress that’s too small for you.
Your bedding should be clean and pressed. Experiment with different types of blanket and pillow to find what style you’re most comfortable with. Keep in mind that a cool room is more conducive to sleep.
One final note – you should learn what sleeping position is best for you so you actively try to sleep in that way at night instead of tossing and turning.
A very popular sleeping position (which I use myself) is known as the ‘Half Military Crawl Position’, as shown in the picture. You bring your right knee out to the side, while keeping your left arm down straight. Lie down on your chest, and put your right arm under your pillow beneath your head.
The advantage of this position is that you cannot move freely. It’s easier to get to sleep without all the fidgeting.