During the week, you keep a firm schedule in place for work, with some play time squeezed in here and there. On the weekends such a schedule might go out the window a bit but hey, it's the weekend.
But when it comes to scheduling enough sleep you assume that—unlike the rest of your life—your sleep will somehow take care of itself. Since you manage to make it to bed each night, your system of just crashing at the end of the day can't be broken, right?
Temptations and obligations get in the way
Still, there are some nights where you just can't seem to get enough sleep. Work—or pleasure—keeps you up far too late one night and the next night, you're falling asleep in your dinner or dozing during your commute.
Fortunately, you can have much more control over your sleep schedule than you may think. In fact, you can begin immediately to use strategies that will help you get a better night's sleep and enjoy more of the benefits that sleep offers.
Why you need to schedule your sleep
One of the best things you can do for your sleep health is to maintain a regular bedtime and wake-time schedule, including weekends.
Our bodies regulate sleep in part by our circadian rhythms, mechanisms driven by our 24-hour biological clock. These circadian rhythms are sensitive, and can easily be thrown off kilter by fluctuating bedtimes and wake times. Keeping this schedule throughout the week strengthens this circadian function and helps us fall asleep more easily at night.
However, if that sounds like too tall an order, don't despair. Scheduling yourself for a regular "lights out" time is easier than you may think.
We're going to share with you four common reasons why many people don't get to bed on time, and give you workable solutions for tackling these problems in your own life.
Problem 2: You stay up late with technology: TV, Internet and phone
Solution: Turn it Off
- Schedule your technological activity's end-time for 60 minutes before lights out.
- Set a timer to keep you on track. Use an egg timer or a cell-phone alarm to remind you to turn off the TV or get offline. You can also enlist a member of the house to help you remember to stop 60 minutes before your lights-out time.
- Use a blue-light blocking app on computers, laptops, tablets to reduce the stimulation that blue light provides during the activity in question.
- Keep the technology out of the bedroom. Since you're using S+, you'll want to keep your smartphone nearby—but don't check those messages! Turn off any "new message" alerts to keep you from reaching for your phone during the night or in the early morning.
Problem 3: You're out of the house
Solution: Set a "Time to Go" Alarm
- Think ahead. Before you go out for the night, determine what time you need to be home to make your bedtime schedule. Be sure to factor in drive time (on both ends), plus activity time to make a reasonable estimate.
- Set a watch alarm or phone alarm for your departure from your activity.
- When it rings, hit the snooze button (a 5-minute snooze is good), say your goodbyes, then leave when the reminder rings again.
- If you have kids and need a babysitter, try using a sitter who can't stay out too late. Ideally, he or she will need to be home an hour before your bedtime.
Problem 4: Late Night Emotional Discussions or Crises
Solution: Set Boundaries
- Establish a firm line between sleep time and any activities that can cause stress, excitement, or anxiety. Set a time—say 8 p.m.—after which any big conversations must be shelved until the next day.
- Naturally, you can't schedule a crisis. If a late-evening emotional event cannot be avoided, be sure to be kind to yourself. You'll do your emotional self and your sleep a favor if you don't get overly stressed about the fact that you're going to have a late evening this time.
- If you know you need to have an emotional conversation, or if you notice that you tend to have these discussions at night, try scheduling time for them earlier in the evenings or picking a different time of day.
Sleep keeps us healthy and happy like nothing else. It's why sleep scientists and physicians place such a high priority on scheduling sleep. These solutions are designed to help you better manage your time and make sure that you set a sleep schedule and stick to it.
You'll find that it's truly time well spent.