This blog is the second in a series on cultivating good sleep hygiene. You can click the link to read the first blog in the series, What is Sleep Hygiene.
Your sleep schedule is one of the most important components in getting to sleep quickly and waking up refreshed. Sleep hygiene research suggests that poor sleep hygiene may not be a primary cause of insomnia—but that where insomnia exists, good sleep hygiene practices can help alleviate the symptoms.
In other words, if you sleep soundly and wake refreshed, your sleep habits are working for you, no matter how “bad” or “good” someone else says they are. If, however, you’re having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep—or if you sleep all night but still wake up feeling tired—then investing some effort into observing good sleep hygiene can make the difference.
Keeping a Schedule
Going to sleep at the same time each night and waking up at the same time each morning conditions your body to a particular sleep schedule. You’ll have an easier time falling asleep in the evening and be more likely to wake up in the morning feeling refreshed and ready to climb out of bed.
The human body is geared to a natural circadian rhythm of light and dark. Even if you’re getting eight hours of sleep, if you go to bed at 4:00 in the morning and wake up at noon, you’re still likely to feel drained—you’ll be fighting your body’s natural tendency to fall asleep as the sun goes down and to wake up shortly after sunrise.
Pick a sleep schedule and stick to it for six weeks. Pick a time in the evening between 9:00 and 11:00 in the evening and another between 5:00 and 8:00 in the morning. Aim for eight to nine hours of sleep if possible, but if you can’t do that keep to the same interval each night. Wake up at the same time every morning (within a 30 minute window), even if you miss your bedtime and get less sleep—even if it means you need to take a nap later in the day.
See how you feel after six weeks. You’ll be surprised how much more alert and even easygoing you’ll feel once you’ve cultivated a regular sleep schedule. In the process, you’ll lower your risk of hypertension, diabetes, even certain cancers!