Setting Your Sleep Schedule for Maximum Energy
If you want to have more energy (especially if you sleep too much or have sleeping problems), one of the most important things you should do is work on sticking to a steady sleep and wake up schedule.
You should do your best to reach a point where you go to sleep and wake up at the same times every day. You do it by waking up at the same time, even on weekends!
It means that if you’ve missed your ‘lights out’ time, you don’t give yourself more time to sleep. You wake up on your ‘usual time’.
“But if I’ll sleep less than usual, I’ll be tired all day, won’t I?”
You might, yah… But you’ll survive… and when the time comes to go to sleep, you’d fall asleep quickly. This way you’ll be ‘back on track’ in one day.
Do you work shifts? Read my post about Shift Work and Sleep
How to Align Yourself with Your ‘Natural Sleep Clock’
A few mechanisms in your body (mainly the Circadian Rhythm and the sleep cycles), determine specific times that are best for you to go to sleep and to wake up. At those times you will fall asleep quickly, sleep deeply, and wake up refreshed and energetic.
You should tune yourself to those times and stick to them.
1. Decide on your ‘wake up’ time.
Give yourself ‘enough’ sleep to be able to wake up on time and ‘function’. How much depends on you and where you are now, but 7-8 hours is usually a good place to start. You may be able to do with less, though. (I feel great with 6-7 hours).
If you wake up heavy and drowsy, move your ‘wake up time’ 20-40 minutes earlier or later, until you find the best time for you. You’ll know when you find it.
2. Wake up and stay up.
Make sure to wake up on the time you’ve decided on. During the day stay awake and active – don’t nap, eat well, move your body and spend time out doors to expose your eyes to sunlight…
Sunlight helps your ‘inner sleep clock’ reset itself each day (so take off your sunglasses when you don’t really need them.) If you work the night shift and sleep in the morning, try to avoid or reduce your exposure to sunlight before you go to sleep.
3. Prepare for sleep.
During the afternoon start slowing down gradually. As you get closer to bedtime, avoid stimulants (physical activity, coffee, smoking, sugar etc), eat lightly, dim the lights…you get the idea.
4. Go to sleep when you’re tired.
If you’re not sure what the right time for you to go to sleep is, simply go to sleep when you feel your eyes get heavy.
Sounds obvious? You may be forgetting all the times that you go to bed when you’re not very tired, but because of habit, or simply because you’re bored…
Or the other way around – instead of going to sleep, you wake yourself up by having a smoke, a cup of coffee or some ice cream…
The idea is that you get ready for sleep in advance (step 3) and you don’t raise your energy level when you’re getting close to bedtime.
If you stick to these steps for a few days you will soon be getting tired and ready for sleep on the right time for you.
(Going to sleep on time may require some self discipline, I know. I’ll talk about that in a future post.)
5. Repeat steps 2-4
It’s best to stick to your routine even on days off. Yes, even if you wake up on 5AM. (Most successful people are early risers. I’ll have to write about that some day.)
It might take you a couple of weeks to get used to it, so give it a chance. Focus on the benefits. Besides, unless you can’t stand on your feet, it’s not that terrible if you feel a bit tired.
If you want to reduce sleep, you can do it by (gradually) going to sleep later, increasing your activity level during the day and improving your sleep.
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