So how do you actually get yourself to bed and wake up on a schedule? We asked sleep doctors to share tips.
HOW TO BUILD A CONSISTENT SLEEP SCHEDULE
Treat yourself: Set a wake-up goal that feels attainable (even if it’s challenging), Dr Prather said – and then reward yourself for getting out of bed. That could mean heading to your favourite coffee shop or saving the show you’ve been looking forward to for Saturday morning instead of Friday night.
Pay attention to your pre-bedtime ritual: A regular bedtime routine – reading a few pages of a novel after you brush your teeth, for example – can help lock in a set sleep schedule. But the hours before you wind down for bed matter too, Dr Horvat said.
In the four hours or so before you head to bed, avoid alcohol, she suggested, and don’t work out (you may want to switch your dedicated exercise time to the morning.) These shifts will help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
Find an accountability partner: Recruit a friend or a family member to get up around the same time you do, Dr Prather recommended, and hold yourselves accountable by texting each other when you wake up. Even better: Make an early(ish) plan for brunch or a morning walk to give yourself added motivation for getting up.
Get some sun: Light helps regulate our circadian rhythm, Dr Abbott said, signaling to our bodies that it’s time to wake up. Take (even a brief) morning walk, if the weather allows, to expose yourself to sunlight around the same time each day, she recommended.
Make your alarm as annoying as possible: If you can’t pry yourself out of bed on the weekends, Dr Prather said, go for the nuclear option: Opt for an alarm you can’t ignore. Set a grating song as your alarm tone, or try a puzzle alarm – an app that makes you solve a puzzle to shut it off.
For extra incentive to wake up, keep your phone across the room at night, instead of by your bed, so you have to force yourself out of your covers to turn off the alarm.
Give yourself grace: “How aligned you are with your biological clock and how consistent you keep things does matter,” Dr Prather said. “But that doesn’t mean every little moment, every week, matters.”
Long-term sleep patterns are more important for overall health, he added, rather than worrying about one or two nights’ bad sleep. “It takes the pressure off,” he said.
By Dani Blum © 2023 The New York Times
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.