Whether you are traveling to a new time zone, or perhaps starting a new job that has radically different hours than your previous one, at some point, you may find yourself in a situation where you have to drastically alter your sleeping schedule.
And as anyone who has had to shift their sleeping routine before can attest, such a big change can have lingering effects for days and even weeks. You may feel more tired than usual on a regular basis, have a hard time going to bed or waking up at your new timeframes, or just experience a decrease in focus, productivity, and ability to function at your best.
Luckily, there are a few things you can do to make this transition easier, and shorter. Start by applying the following tips which may make adjusting to a new sleep schedule a less-stressful endeavor.
If you know that a big change to your sleeping routine is on the horizon, start adjusting early, roughly one to two weeks before the shift, (depending on how drastic the change is). Move your sleep schedule back or forward in 15 minute increments every night.
For example, if you used to wake up at 8:00 a.m. and your new job requires you to wake up at 5:00 a.m., set the alarm for 7:45 a.m., then 7:30 a.m., and so on until you reach that 5:00 a.m. wake-up time.
A short nap can do a lot of good when it comes to catching up on the sleep you need, especially if you are having trouble falling or staying asleep during those first few days of transition.
The trick is to nap smartly, and at optimal times of the day or night. Try to take a nap at least three hours before your bedtime so you don’t confuse your body’s inherent circadian rhythms, and keep your naps short and no longer than 30 minutes.
By indulging in a quick nap or two, you may get a small boost of energy that can keep you moving until it’s time to head to bed.
A dose of natural light can help you feel energized when you need to be awake, but if you’re starting a night shift, natural lighting may be hard to come by.
So use LED lighting when possible to provide a little artificial boost, as LED lighting is the closest style of lighting to natural sunshine, and outfit your bedroom with blackout curtains if you need to catch your Zzzzzzs during the daytime.
By changing your bedroom and sleeping environment to align with your new sleep schedule, you’ll have an easier time adjusting to a different routine, without being affected by the natural cues of the day.
For more tips on a great bedroom and environment for sleep, check out this recent blog post!
Adjusting to a drastic change in your sleeping routine can be difficult to be sure, but it doesn’t have to be an insurmountable switch. Go gradual, mimic the natural light cues of the day, and take a quick nap when needed, and you’ll adjust to your new schedule in no time at all.
If another factor, like a sleeping disorder, could be affecting your rest regardless of your schedule, we can help. Contact us to find out about testing for and treating sleeping problems like obstructive sleep apnea.