The importance of having a regular sleep schedule can not be overemphasized and the benefits are so much that it would be telling to overlook.
You sleep away one-third of your life span- How’s that for a fun fact?
In my opinion, that’s not a bad investment considering the benefits associated with sleep.
Many people, especially young adults, struggle with an improper sleep schedule as we are more susceptible to the numerous factors that affect our sleep patterns. Some of which would be discussed in this blog post.
Today, I reveal to you the 5 steps I take to fix my sleep schedule each time it deviates from the norm.
Full disclaimer: The content in this article is not given as a professional solution to sleep problems. If you face problems related to sleep, Please pay a visit to your physician.
WHAT IS SLEEP SCHEDULE
In order to understand what sleep schedule is, the concept of Sleep must first be conceived.
Sleep is a state of unconsciousness in which the brain responds more to internal stimuli than external. It is by this phenomenon that the body carries out some of its repair and restorative functions
During sleep, you find that you are more sensitive to brain activities such as louder thoughts, inhibited sensory activity and reduced muscle activity in nearly all voluntary muscles.
All of these occur during Rapid Eye Movement, REM and Non-Rapid Eye Movement, NREM stages of a sleep cycle.
The eye moves while we sleep. Yup, I am just figuring that out too.
Apparently, when the movement of the eye is rapid, we are in a shallow sleep.
When it’s not, we are in a much deeper sleep. Possibly where dreams occur.
That’s by the way.
A sleep schedule is therefore a pattern of sleep-wake events that are naturally aligned with daylight and night cycles.
The mechanism behind this is called The Circadian Rhythm
Causes of irregular sleep schedule
There are numerous factors that influence the action of the circadian rhythm and sleep schedule in the long run, but they can be loosely grouped in the following classes.
- Internal Factors
- External Factors
All of which can cause sleep deprivation and irregularities in your sleep pattern.
Internal Factors that influence sleep schedule.
As the name implies, these are those factors that are body-centric. They can further be divided into;
- Physiological cause
- Psychological cause
Physiological causes of sleep irregularity occur when elements or parts of the body that are responsible for the normal coordination of a sleep schedule do not perform their function effectively.
An example is a deviated circadian rhythm
The circadian rhythm is simply the body’s mechanism to regulate the time for sleep/wake cycles.
It is responsible for the various physiological activities that occur on a daily basis
Yes, it is a timekeeper to ensure you do the right thing at the right time.
Hormonal Imbalance between Melatonin and Cortisol
Melatonin is a chemical substance that sends signals to the body telling it “it’s time to sleep.”
So is it like the power button of your device?
Anyways, cortisol is its counterpart. It has many functions one of which is to tell the body to wake up.
An imbalance between these substances could cause sleep schedule irregularities.
Psychologically causes are more streamlined to the mind and take into consideration emotions that may cause a lack of sleep. Examples are stress, doubts, fears, etc.
External factors surrounding sleep schedule.
Since the environment is one of the ways in which the body clock takes its cues from. It plays a vital role in a person’s sleep schedule.
The introduction of technology has had its fair contribution as seen in the effect of long exposure to blue light emitted from our devices.
This can trick the circadian rhythm into thinking its daytime which ultimately disrupts the sleep schedule.
Residing in Industrial areas can also affect our sleep routine due to direct access to noise and many other emissions.
Certain lifestyle choices could also alter your sleep pattern.
Modern lifestyle has introduced longer working hours, more shift-work as well as late night socialization such as partying and extended exposure to social media.
If you are like me that digs through the fridge around 3 am for a lil snack to go with your Netflix.
Don’t expect a regular sleep schedule.
WHY A PROPER SLEEP SCHEDULE IS IMPORTANT
- PRODUCTIVITY LEVELS
- STATE OF MIND/ALERTNESS/ SOUNDNESS
- PERSONAL GROWTH
With the right amount of sleep coupled with an advantageous sleep-wake time, you find that the planning of your day is made significantly easier. And deadlines are met.
Can sleep really affect how much you can put into a task?
In this survey, 1000 adults were observed and tested to see the effect of sleep irregularities on productivity.
The results were clear as decreased productivity was incurred in all forms of sleep irregularities with Insomnia yielding a productivity reduction of 58-109%.
SHARPNESS OF THE MIND
A research was conducted to assess the association between sleep duration and academic performance among student pharmacists
The results show that majority of students had an average sleep duration of a little over 6 hours on a typical school night and even less in nights prior to examinations.
Also, duration of sleep the night prior to an examination was associated with academic performance as measured by course grades and semester GPA.
This finding is consistent with Medeiros et al’s research among medical students that found students who reported sleeping for longer durations obtained higher scores on examinations
By so doing, daytime sleepiness is reduced to its barest minimum and paves way for rejuvenation and expedited activity of brain cells.
The significance of this cannot be overemphasized. A quick story, Yeah?
Once when I faced prolly the worst sleep schedule ever, key elements of the pillars of wellness began to dwindle right before my eyes.
I crawled the nights along with the crickets. And I kid you not when I say ‘I went to bed by 8 am and woke by 5.30 pm.’
A deficit in my physical well-being was noticed as all my fitness goals dwindled.
Morning routines became evening and vice versa.
Physical wellness wasn’t the only pillar that suffered, that of social wellness did as well.
This posed an even more serious issue when I discovered a drastic decline in my contribution to the community (family).
I missed all the good events like the big uncle gifting us money.
I was at the backfoot because when I got up the world was resigning to their beds.
HOW I FIX MY SLEEP SCHEDULE
If the aim is to reset my sleep schedule to its original position, Why don’t I just pull an all-nighter, That way, I am more sleepy when my desired bedtime arrives. Right?
No matter what you do, do not attempt to stay awake all through the night as this will only cause daytime sleepiness and further push your schedule far out.
Here’s a more practical approach I adopt.
1. Identify the cause
This is a no brainer.
What could be the reason behind the change in your sleep pattern as discussed here?
The need to identify the cause cannot be eschewed as this is the first conscious step to take in correcting your sleep irregularities.
You may want to review your recent activities. The devil is in the details. After identifying the cause, you can proceed with the following steps.
It’s no error that this makes the list and holds a very sensitive position.
In times when you are overburdened with disappointments, and limitations. What happens? Cause I am certain that none of the underlying strategies on how to fix your sleep would work.
They didn’t work for me when the causes were internal.
When the fears began to appear real and stress took its toll on me. When doubts did a number on my life source.
It gets even worse when You’re getting bothered about the situation which then puts you in a vicious cycle of sleep deprivation since you can’t bring yourself to calmness.
Sleep became obsolete.
Not the well-ventilated room, nor the sleep apps worked.
Prayer works and it’s free.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, I come to you with all my burdens so I may have and know rest. I take upon myself your light yoke and leave my heavy burden with you. In Your name. Amen
3. Plan and Strategize.
Take an active part in rectifying your sleep pattern by planning for it and allowing those plans to have a place in your world.
Start with choosing your desired Wake and sleep time.
Take a deeper look at your daily activities and try to map out exactly how your typical day goes
Identify things that upset your circadian rhythm and sleep pressure. An example is ‘Blue-light’ from your devices. To alleviate the effect of this, search for the “blue light filter” functionality in the settings of your phone or laptop.
There is one caveat to this though. If you work with colours on your devices maybe for web and graphic designing, remember to switch this off
And stay away from television an hour or two before the desired bedtime.
4. Adopt “The Reverse clockwise 1.5x” technique.
You guessed right. I made that up.
The Reverse Clockwise 1.5x technique simply entails rescheduling your daily activities 15 minutes earlier.
Then reverse engineer it (your activity schedule) to increase by 15 minutes every two days.
Say, I eat my quick snacks by 3 am during my extended sleep schedule. Adopting this technique would mean I would eat by 2.45 am for the next 2 days and by 2.30 am for the following two days.
I would do this for all my activities.
It may seem like a long shot but the results are amazing. Here’s why;
- It provides enough time for the body to observe and register new changes in your activities
- It doesn’t put any strain on your melatonin-cortisol balance( Hormones responsible for sleepiness and wakefulness respective in the human body.
- There’s no chemical alteration since you’re not ingesting any substance eg melatonin supplements.
- Plus it worked for me when my sleep schedule went off the roof as I began to write blogposts for you.
5. Keep an eye out for reset markers
I call them “reset markers” because they are natural and unplanned events that have the ability to factory-reset your sleep schedule.
Some examples are;
A long day; A day that stands out from your typical day marked by the abundance of activities that leaves you languid.
Change of environment;
A change from one locale to another can send a lot of different cues to the mind and body.
I noticed I slept earlier when I travelled from home to school dorm and when I lodged in a hotel during my internship.
There you have it five concise steps to fix your sleep schedule.
However, it is important to note that sleep schedule is progressive.
On one hand, it means that one sleep-wake cycle deviant of the regular sleep routine will not harm your sleep schedule.
On the other hand, frequent change in your sleep pattern- as a result of your activities- will alter your sleep-wake cycles.
Isn’t it funny how the daily activities we set to achieve each morning also have a major role in deciding when we go to sleep?
Because of this, its likely that you’d face sleep irregularities as your daily activities change.
However, you could adopt these steps when that happens.
Once again, note that I do not give these advice as a medical professional. If you have troubles sleeping, see your physician.
What is your current sleep schedule and what are your activities like?
As for me, I sleep by 2 am and wake by 10am and I am on holidays.