Your New Sleep Schedule

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Everyone has occasional sleepless nights: you’ve been tired all day, yet when your head hits the pillow your eyes shoot open. You toss and turn, your pillow is too hot, your blankets are too scratchy, there’s some weird tapping noise, your roommate is snoring and you just feel like sleeping is not on the plan tonight. Ugh

Everyone has exhausted mornings too: the alarm goes off, you snooze it, the alarm goes off again, you snooze it again and your blankets are just too comfortable to think of getting out of bed that morning. Maybe you pulled an all-nighter cramming for an exam one night in the past few days, and now you feel like your sleep schedule will never recover. No need to stress: it can, and it will! 

Why is Sleep Important?

Many doctors and parents alike emphasize that there is almost nothing more important for your health than a good night’s sleep. Sleep allows your body to recharge; sleeping keeps your immune system healthy and allows your brain to work at its best.

You have a circadian rhythm, a cycle that keeps your body processes on a healthy schedule. The sleep-wake cycle is one of the most important cycles that one’s circadian rhythm regulates. The human sleep-wake cycle relates to the sun, which is why people are more alert in the morning and more restful at night. During the day, light signals the body to keep it awake. At night, the body naturally releases melatonin to make the body feel sleepy.

How Much Sleep Do I Need?

The National Sleep Foundation recommends that young adults, ages 18-25, should aim to get seven to nine hours of sleep per night. 

When Should I Go to Sleep?

In order to create a healthy sleep schedule, aim to start winding down and going to bed around the same time every night, and wake up around the same time every day. Count back seven to nine hours from the time you need to set your first alarm for, and mark that time as the time you want to get into bed. For example, if you need to be awake at 7a.m., get into bed about eight hours before..

How Can I Get Better Sleep?

Spending about one to two hours winding down before you get into bed can help you fall asleep faster and improve the quality of your sleep. To wind down, keep your room at a comfortable temperature for your body, relax in low lighting and avoid eating large meals or drinking caffeine right before bed. Stay away from your phone, computer and television at least 30 minutes before you try to fall asleep. Try to develop a bedtime routine with relaxing activities like reading a book, stretching in a position like child’s pose, or listening to calming music. 

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I Can’t Wake Up!

Hitting the snooze button a couple extra times in the morning after a long night probably won’t damage your long-term health, but chronic oversleeping can be an indication that a more serious health issue is at bay.

In a Harvard sleep study, researchers found that, “light-based interventions may be successful in treating irregular sleep in this population.”

If you have a hard time waking up, try to sleep with your window positioned to let natural light in in the morning, whether that means leaving your blinds open or asking a friend/family member to open them for you. Plan something exciting for your morning — a walk with a friend to help you feel energized, a tasty breakfast to eat or a new outfit to wear — that will make you want to leap out of bed in the morning. 

How Can I Sleep In Guilt-Free?

Don’t panic when you oversleep. Your body tells you what it needs, and if it needs to catch a few more z’s that morning, you may feel better off because of those extra hours. When you sleep in, knock out the bigger tasks that you planned to get done that day, the necessities from your to-do list. Even when you oversleep, getting productive can help you stay on schedule.

If you tend to have a hard time falling asleep at night after a morning of refreshing sleep, try exercising during the day, avoid drinking caffeine or alcohol and steer clear of screens and naps close to bedtime.

Tweet your secret sleep tip to @VALLEYmag!



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