Sleep Corner: Hit Reset on Your Sleep Schedule
Whether you are coming out of hibernation from winter break, trying to recover from late nights of TV binging/gaming, or still trying to discover that sweet spot of sleep, the start of the new year (and quarter) is the perfect opportunity to establish a healthy sleep/wake routine.
Not only does having a consistent sleep schedule help you to feel more rested, but it also sharpens thinking and memory, strengthens physical health, and boosts mood and emotional regulation. If you want to take a single action toward establishing a healthy sleep/wake routine, try sticking to a consistent waking time.
Manage your sleep/wake schedule.
Our sleep/wake schedule is determined by two factors: our circadian rhythm and the level of sleep pressure. Circadian rhythm is influenced by exposure to sunlight, whereas sleep pressure increases as a chemical called adenosine accumulates over the course of our waking hours. When you go to sleep, adenosine is cleared away.
By waking up at the same time each day, you set your body’s circadian rhythm, allowing you to build up adequate sleep pressure, and become sleepy at the same time each evening. #sleepgoals
Have a late night studying or finishing an assignment? Getting off of work late? Stay consistent with your sleep schedule!
Although it is tempting to wake up later in the morning after going to bed later than usual, doing this will disrupt both the circadian rhythm and the sleep pressure, thus resetting your body to a later schedule. (Hence, why you may have fallen down the rabbit hole after an all-nighter.)
The same rule also applies to the weekend. Waking up early on Saturday and Sunday morning may seem unrealistic, especially after a long week of class, work, and extracurriculars. Rest assured, it is okay to be a little flexible with this. Just avoid deviating from your sleep routine entirely, try to limit the difference in waking time to an hour or less.
Keep a consistent sleep schedule.
Once you have established a consistent waking time, you can keep your sleep on track by avoiding naps. Taking a long nap (as good as it may feel) can disrupt your sleep pressure, which will make it more difficult to fall asleep at your usual bedtime, and can lead to you waking up in the middle of deep sleep, making you feel disoriented and groggy. If you need to take a nap, limit it to less than an hour, and catch those Zzzs early afternoon at the latest.
- Circadian Rhythms and Routines: Cultivate Consistency for Improved Mental Health The Flourish: October 2022 Sleep Corner
- Sleep - Lifestyle Medicine Stanford Center on Longevity
- Better Sleep - Sleep Hygiene Tips (5 minute video) Counseling and Psychological Services