6 Steps To Reset Your Sleep Patterns For Fall

6 Steps To Reset Your Sleep Patterns For Fall

While Monday, Labor Day, is known as the unofficial end of summer, many people find it more difficult to adjust their sleep schedule back to what it was before the laid back summertime schedule began. Although it is especially true for children who go back to school in August or September, adults can also suffer the consequences from shifted summer sleep schedules.

Once fall arrives, in about three short weeks, we might find that we are still doing many activities in the evening and nighttime, making it more difficult to fall asleep at the earlier desired time. I, for one, can attest to this. And, I will have to wean my way back into the school/work schedule. Some fortunate people find that they can just change their sleep timing to go to bed earlier and wake earlier without any issue. If you’re one of those people, the sooner you start keeping a steady sleep-wake schedule seven days per week, the better! If you aren’t one of those people (my hand raised), here are some suggestions that can help:

1. Power Down
Avoid any screen time (i.e. computers, cell phones, TVs) at least one hour before your new desired bedtime (but ideally two hours before). Melatonin is a hormone that’s naturally produced in our brains and it comes out when the sun starts to set. Melatonin helps to induce sleepiness and keeps us asleep throughout the night. Bright light can limit melatonin production, and blue light (especially from all the electronics screens) is an even bigger offender.

2. Wind Down
Practice winding down your body and mind as well. Find relaxing activities and hobbies that are calm, quiet and soothing. This is not the time to return emails, finish work and be active. Sleep isn’t an on/off switch — it is more like a dimmer switch where you turn down the lights and your body.

3. Light Bright
Do the opposite in the morning. When you wake up, get up and open all the curtains in your house. Get as much natural light as you can. Eat breakfast in front of a window. Bright light stops melatonin production, wakes us up and helps us keep a more consistent bed and wake schedule.

4. Stay The Course
Keep a steady sleep-wake schedule seven days a week. For some, this may be a challenge. However, our bodies don’t have a “weekday” switch and a “weekend” switch. We need to keep things steady. If you sleep in on the weekends, you may only make it harder to go to bed at a more normal time come Sunday night.

5. Slow And Steady
If you’re really struggling with adjusting, some people find that gradually adjusting to a new schedule can help. Go to bed 15 minutes earlier (and wake up 15 minutes earlier) every day until you reach your target bed and wake times. This also means that you should dim the lights and wind down at home 15 minutes earlier every night.

6. Eat For Sleep
Get back on a healthy overall diet. We often loosen up our diet rules over the summer in favor of the ice cream and pie. Limit sugar at night, and avoid anything with caffeine (soda, coffee, tea, chocolate) after noon. Avoid alcohol within three hours of bedtime since it can disrupt sleep even further.

If you’ve tried the above suggestions and you are still struggling with sleep issues, talk with your doctor or a sleep specialist since there are other treatment options that can be quite useful.

7 Top Tips for Feeling More Energetic!

7 Top Tips for Feeling More Energetic!

Do you sometimes have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep? Are you waking up in the middle of the night or before your alarm goes off? It’s important for you to understand what’s causing your sleep struggles, and use tips like the ones below to prepare for a restful night.

Getting enough sleep has a positive domino effect on our health; our bodies are in restore and rejuvenation mode while we’re sleeping; this can help us heal from illnesses and reduce aches and pains in our joints or muscles, for example. Deep sleep also helps reduce stress and anxiety, so we have more energy the next day.

And speaking of the next day, have you ever noticed that you’re hungrier when you’re tired? Research shows our appetite can increase up to 25% when we’re feeling exhausted, and many of us often turn to caffeine or sugar (or both) to give us a boost of energy. And that begins a roller-coaster of bursts of energy followed by energy crashes. That’s right – not getting enough sleep can actually cause us to gain weight or make it harder for us to lose weight.

Tonight, why not start some of these healthy sleep rituals?

Give yourself a bedtime. What’s your bedtime? Just like kids, we benefit when we have a consistent sleep time, because our bodies anticipate and respond to routine.

Close the kitchen. Make your last meal two to three hours before bedtime, so your body has a chance to digest the food. Digestion is a lot of physical activity – not what you want to be doing while you sleep!

Shut down electronics 30 minutes before bedtime. Turn off the TV, the laptop, the tablet, the Xbox, the PlayStation, your smartphone…did I miss anything? According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), all of these devices can hinder your ability to sleep. One reason, explains the NSF, is that these devices emit blue light, “which our brains interpret as daylight. Blue light actually suppresses melatonin, a hormone that supports circadian rhythm and that should begin to increase when you are preparing for sleep.” So when you’re on your tablet or phone at night, your brain thinks it’s daytime. That can make it harder to fall asleep.

Set your smartphone to the “do not disturb” setting. In addition to the blue light, sending nighttime emails, scrolling through Facebook or posting on Instagram right before bedtime might be stressing you out or making your mind race. You’re not alone – NSF research shows that 71 percent of people sleep either holding their smartphone, having it in bed with them, or having it on their nightstand. Instead, place your smartphone where it is not within arm’s reach, and set it to “do not disturb” for the seven to eight hours of sleep you should be getting. Note: If you don’t want to miss a call from certain people – say you have elderly parents or kids at college — you can set your smartphone to allow calls and texts from select contacts. Everything else can wait until morning! The best option would be to not sleep with any electronics in your bedroom, at all!!!

Create a relaxing ritual. Very few people fall asleep the minute their head hits the pillow. Instead, you may want to create some rituals that tell your body you’re shutting down for the night. Try a warm bath with lavender essential oil. You can also listen to some relaxing music or do some deep breathing, restorative yoga, and/or meditation.

Dark = Deep. How many little electronic lights are glowing in your bedroom once the lamps and overhead lights are off? The darker you can make your room, the more restorative your sleep can be, because the darkness releases the sleep hormone, melatonin. Cover up those little lights with black electric tape or turn them face down or toward the wall. You might also try light-blocking curtains if light streams in from outside.

Help your hormones with a sleep mask. If your room is still bright, try wearing a sleep mask. It creates the total darkness our bodies need to release melatonin and get a healthier night’s sleep. I always recommend the softest sleep mask you can find, with natural fibers. It may not be attractive, but if it helps you sleep, you will feel and look your best with more energy. And that’s a beautiful thing!

I’d love to hear how your sleep improves with these tips, and which ones are most helpful to you. Feel free to share on my Facebook page – just not right before bedtime!

Sweet dreams!

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