How To Fix Your Sleep Schedule & Reset Your Nightly Routine
Published by Dr. Venn-Watson
Dr. Eric Venn-Watson’s Highlights
You only had one bad night sleep, but now you feel completely off-schedule. Pulling an all-nighter to work on your latest project can throw your entire sleep cycle for a loop, just like crossing a few time zones can give you jet lag.
Not being able to sleep isn’t just a minor issue, either. The long term effects of sleeplessness have serious negative health impacts that are cumulative over time. Together, we’ll discuss what causes your body to build the need for sleep, what could be interfering with your nightly routine, and how you can reset your circadian rhythm and sleep better.
What’s Running The Sleep Show?
Missing out on a night of sleep makes you cranky and can leave you wondering who’s calling the sleep shots. Miss several nights of sleep and you can quite literally become delirious. Your body has two internal sleep regulators that determine how and when you sleep.
Every organism on earth has a circadian rhythm that governs your sleep and wake time. Your circadian rhythm runs on a 24-hour cycle and helps tell you when it’s time to be alert and when it’s time to prepare for sleep.
Circadian rhythm responds to different external cues in your day to prepare you for sleep and keep you awake when you need to be awake. One of the most important cues is light.
In the morning hours when light is bright, your body responds by signaling your brain to become alert. In the evening as the sun sets, your circadian rhythm responds by telling your body it’s time to sleep.
Your circadian rhythm even dictates when you're mentally sharpest, and when your muscles perform the best (which incidentally is about 2:00 p.m.). Your circadian rhythm doesn’t work independently. It requires your sleep drive, too.
Your sleep drive, also referred to as your sleep/wake homeostasis, is the function in your body that builds your need for sleep. When you wake up, your sleep drive is essentially off (even if it feels like you want to hit the snooze button a few more times). As the day progresses and your energy is expended, your sleep drive increases.
When your energy has been thoroughly expended, your sleep drive will signal you by making you feel tired. Similar to how your body signals you with hunger when you need to eat food, sleepiness and fatigue let you know it is time for sleep.
The longer you remain awake, the more your sleep drive increases. If you pull an all-nighter, your sleep drive won’t shut off; it will build and intensify such that your body may even force you into sleep. Your body can’t force you to eat when you are hungry, but it can cause you to sleep, which is why it’s unsafe to operate heavy machinery or do much of anything when you’re very tired.
What Factors Interfere With Sleep Regulators?
There are numerous factors that can cause you to miss out on needed sleep. Anxiety, drinking coffee too late in the day, or even certain health conditions can all create the perfect storm that causes sleep to become elusive.
We all know that jet lag can throw your sleep schedule for a loop, but if you routinely travel across time zones, you could end up missing sleep on a regular basis. Even traveling from coast to coast can make it difficult to develop a solid sleep routine.
Daylight savings time can also interfere with your sleep. Most people need a week or two to adjust to the time change. While your body adjusts, you might feel tired during the day, which is a signal your sleep/wake homeostasis is off balance.
Doctors, nurses, first responders, and other shift workers can relate: when the shift ends in the morning, it can be hard to get to sleep. People who work the night shift often find insomnia is a common problem. The cumulative effect of not sleeping well due to your work schedule can even shorten your lifespan, which is why most night shift work is limited to rotating schedules.
Shift work-related sleeplessness can increase the risk of injuries on the job and also create imbalances with cortisol and melatonin.
Pulling an All-Nigther
Even if you only do it once in a while, staying up all night can cause you to experience a kink in your sleep cycle. Staying up causes your sleep drive to build and intensify. When you don’t get sleep to relieve it, it continues into the next day.
This can force you into a nap that can reset your sleep drive, making it harder for you to fall asleep at your normal time.
Our needs for sleep change as we get older. When we are born, we don’t have a circadian rhythm. Babies develop them around 4-6 months of age. As we enter our senior years, our circadian rhythm changes, and can even “short circuit,” leaving us feeling tired too early in the afternoon and waking us before the sun rises.
Adults who suffer from cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s or dementia also have greater sleep-related issues. The lack of sleep, ironically, can also contribute to cognitive decline.
How To Reset Your Sleep Cycle
Sleep is essential to a healthy, functioning body, and if your sleep cycles are off-balance, you can try these solutions to improve your sleep hygiene and get a better night of rest.
Adjust the Lighting
The pineal gland is responsible for releasing melatonin, and the single trigger it responds to is darkness. If you have trouble sleeping, make sure your lighting is low in the evenings. If you live in an area that sees a few months of continual light or dark, you’ll need room darkening shades or artificial light sources to compensate.
Catching up on your favorite Netflix show might seem like the perfect way to unwind and prepare for bed, but the blue light emitted from the television, your devices, tablets, and smartphone can all keep you awake longer.
Blue light interferes with your circadian rhythm, and television and social media can stimulate your brain for hours. This is also why you often have vivid dreams after a particularly thrilling television show.
Instead, avoid the TV and devices for at least an hour before you hit the sack. Read a book or meditate in low lighting to set the mood for sleep.
Use Up Your Energy
Your sleep drive builds as you expend energy, but it’s hard to build a solid sleep drive if you lead a sedentary lifestyle. Getting at least 150-225 minutes of exercise per week, coupled with strength training, will help your body use more energy and prepare for sleep.
Limit Caffeine and Alcohol
Both caffeine and alcohol have half-lives, which means the ingredients can remain in your bloodstream for hours after you consume them. If you drink a cup of coffee at 6:00 a.m., for instance, about half of the caffeine from the coffee still resides in your bloodstream at noon.
What’s more, when studied together, alcohol consumption and caffeine consumption together intensified the effects of caffeine, making it last even longer in the bloodstream. Make it a goal to end your coffee intake by a certain time each day, and avoid alcohol before bed.
Eat Dinner Early
Ask for the senior special and aim to eat dinner by 5:00 p.m. if you have trouble sleeping. Your circadian rhythm responds to food, keeping you more alert while your body metabolizes food. Eating 2-3 hours before you plan to go to bed will ensure your body has time to digest your food before you hit the sack.
Take a Supplement
Melatonin might be the most popular supplement for sleep issues, but it’s not necessarily a great option for long term use. Fatty15 may be a better option, especially for long-term use.
Fatty15 is a breakthrough supplement that is research-backed — science supports its role to reverse cellular breakdown with age. Containing just one ingredient, FA15™, this simple little supplement can help you get a better night of rest. Here’s how.
fatty15 and Your Sleep
Fatty15 contains just one ingredient, the pure, vegan-friendly version of C15:0.
C15:0 is an odd-chain, saturated fatty acid that a growing body of research says is the first essential fatty acid to have been discovered in over 90 years.
Fatty15 can help you sleep better, by binding to receptors in your body called PPARs that regulate mood, appetite, immunity, and sleep. Over time, fatty15 can help bring these important aspects of our health back into proper balance.
Fatty15 also helps:*
- Support healthy heart function
- Promote healthy metabolism and liver function
- Help boost your energy
- Gives you the ability to age more healthfully
Don’t take our word for it. In 2020 alone, more than 20 peer-reviewed studies confirm our findings.
If your sleep is interfering with your overall health, make a change and try a science-backed, pure, vegan-friendly supplement that can help you achieve better sleep and feel better. Fatty15 helps to reverse the process of cellular aging and gives you the ability to age on your own terms.
Cool facts about your biological clock | Human World | EarthSky
Sleep Drive and Your Body Clock|Sleep Foundation.org
Association between circadian rhythms and neurodegenerative diseases|PubMed
Influence of alcohol and caffeine consumption on caffeine elimination|PubMed
Total and Cause-Specific Mortality of US Nurses Working Rotating Night Shifts - American Journal of Preventive Medicine
Eric Venn-Watson M.D.
Senior Scientist, Co-Founder
Eric is a physician, U.S. Navy veteran, and Co-founder and COO of Seraphina Therapeutics. Eric served over 25 years as a Navy and Marine Corps physician, working with the special forces community to improve their health and fitness. Seraphina Therapeutics is a health and wellness company dedicated to advancing global health through the discovery of essential fatty acids and micronutrient therapeutics.
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