Sleep is an essential component of a person's life. Unfortunately, most people take it for granted, preferring to work or party for longer hours. However, research shows that getting inadequate sleep is detrimental to your health.
To keep your immune system and body running with minimal problems, you should get at least 8 hours of sleep every night. Studies show that people who get 6 hours of sleep or less are more likely to catch a common cold than those who get 8 hours.
However, getting enough sleep is not just about the duration; it is also about having a consistent sleep schedule.
Why sleep schedule is important
A consistent sleep schedule ensures better quality sleep and a healthy body. Conversely, an inconsistent sleep schedule is bad for your health. It is a recipe for heart attacks and other diseases.
Other risks associated with an erratic sleep schedule are:
- Hypertension or high blood pressure
A regular sleep schedule means sleeping within a 30-minute window of your average bedtime. If you usually go to bed at 11 pm, but sometimes you sleep at 11:28 pm, you are still within your regular sleep schedule.
People with chronic sleep deprivation tend to have a slower metabolism. Moreover, insufficient sleep inhibits HGH secretion, a growth hormone that helps burn fat and build lean muscle mass.
The body naturally produces the growth hormone during sleep. If you don't get enough sleep, less of this hormone is released, leading to a slower metabolism, linked to unhealthy side effects like weight gain.
Having good sleep hygiene means you get adequate, quality sleep, which leads to better health. Besides good health, people who sleep enough tend to have an easier time making decisions and are emotionally more stable.
Adequate sleep is also associated with good moods, improved learning, and increased performance.
Why is my sleep schedule so inconsistent?
An inconsistent sleep schedule, also known as an irregular sleep-wake syndrome, is when you sleep without having an actual sleep schedule.
While some people can sleep all through the night, those with the irregular sleep-wake syndrome wake up several times during sleep. So they don't typically sleep for the recommended 7-8 hours.
Due to the disruptions, they may sleep for 4 hours or even less at a time. Further, they may have 2-3 sleep sessions within 24 hours.
Persons with this syndrome are not considered sleep-deprived. They get enough sleep; it is just that it is spread over 24 hours instead of being consolidated within 8 hours, as should be the case.
Your sleep schedule could be erratic because the circadian rhythm responsible for regulating sleep and wakefulness is disoriented. Another reason your sleep schedule may be inconsistent is if your melatonin levels are low.
Melatonin is the hormone that makes you feel sleepy. Its secretion is higher at night, especially when it is dark, which explains why you need to dim the lights as your sleep time nears.
Causes of sleep disruptions
Sleep disruptions can be caused by different reasons, but the result is always a disorganized sleep-wake cycle.
Some of the most common causes of sleep disruptions are:
- Medical issues like sleep apnea
- Physical disturbances or pain, e.g., headaches, arthritis, fibromyalgia
- Environment issues, e.g., too much noise, too much light, a snoring partner, or a colic baby
- Psychiatric disorders like anxiety and depression
Causes of short-term or acute insomnia include life stressors. For example, being in a stressful job, losing a loved one, moving houses, or environmental issues like extreme temperatures.
If you cannot sleep at least three times weekly for three months or more, you may be having chronic insomnia. Factors like chronic stress or depression may cause this.
Other causes of sleep disruptions are:
- A night shift job: Most people who do night shift jobs never really get enough rest because their body clocks always operate contrary to how they should. They cannot sleep when they should. And even when they finally feel sleepy, they can't sleep much due to daytime distractions.
- Age: Many people over the age of 65 have sleeping disorders. However, it is unclear if this is caused by their medications or advanced ages.
- Genetics: Research shows that some individuals are genetically predisposed to narcolepsy. This is a sleep disorder that affects sleep and wakefulness.
- Medication: Some drugs have been known to interfere with a patient's sleep patterns. Blood pressure medication, antidepressants, and OTC cold medications are known to disrupt sleep.
How long does it take to change a sleep schedule?
Starting and sticking to a sleeping schedule can be an uphill task, especially in the first ten days. The most important thing is consistency. If you stick to the plan, you will be right back on track in roughly two weeks.
The idea is to have the same sleep and wake-up time every day. Overall, it takes approximately 10 to 14 days to change a sleep schedule.
When creating a sleep schedule, there are a few fundamentals. For starters, ensure your bed and bedroom are comfortable. Some people use the bedroom as a home office or a study room.
However, to create a good sleep environment, let the bedroom be used for sleeping only. Ensure the room is quiet, dark, and decluttered. And, of course, get a comfortable bed and bedding.
How to restore your sleep cycle
Here is a list of things you should do to restore your sleep cycle.
Adjust your bedtime
To restore your sleep cycle, you must readjust when you go to bed. Basic math skills can help you to calculate the perfect time for bed. An average sleep cycle is around 90 minutes long.
To be fully rested, you need to have 4-5 sleep cycles. This translates to roughly 7 to 9 hours. To get your preferred bedtime, count back from your ideal wake-up time.
Avoid napping if you can
Napping during the day may be necessary to power up your afternoon, especially after a busy morning. Sometimes, it's normal to doze off when extremely tired or sleepy.
Ideally, take naps between 10 am and 3 pm to ensure you don't disrupt the sleep schedule you are trying to create. However, ensure you don't sleep for longer than 30 minutes. Similarly, if possible, avoid napping past 3 pm.
Set a wake-up time and stick to it
Consistency plays a psychological role in establishing a routine. After a few days of waking up at the same time, you may not need an alarm anymore to wake you up.
However, waking up at the desired time will only be achievable if you have set a sleeping time. You should also ensure you don't snooze your alarm.
Discipline is vital if you're intent on restoring a sleep schedule.
Avoid exposure to bright lights before sleep
Using bright lights in the evening prevents your body from properly transitioning from daytime to nighttime.
Remember that melatonin is produced in darkness. So, ensure your environment is slightly dimmer at night to help with melatonin secretion to help you sleep better.
It would also help to cut down on screen time, be it a smartphone, tablet, computer, or television. These devices stimulate your brain and make it harder for you to sleep.
To get enough sleep at night, it is advisable to avoid screen time for 30 minutes to an hour before going to bed.
Avoid exercise close to bedtime
Physical activity is undoubtedly good for your health and also promotes sound sleep.
However, when it comes to sleeping, it's best not to exercise close to your bedtime as the body will get too excited when it should be slowing down in readiness for bed.
If you have to exercise in the evening, ensure you finish an hour before your scheduled bedtime.
Careful what you eat close to bedtime
The time you take dinner may affect your ability to sleep well. Eating right before your bedtime affects your sleep because your digestive system is still so busy.
So instead of focusing on producing melatonin and serotonin (sleep hormones), your body concentrates on producing digestive enzymes and insulin.
Insulin converts glucose into fat which is then stored in your muscles and liver. Typically, we are more sensitive to insulin in the morning as it fuels the body to keep it on the move during the day.
At night, however, the body starts to be resistant to insulin to allow it to slow down and rest.
Some foods are easier to digest than others. The longer the food takes to be digested, the longer it takes you to fall asleep. Besides being digested slowly, some foods are more acidic than others. Such foods may cause tummy upsets, keeping you awake for longer.
Raw or cooked vegetables, apples with peanut butter, and Greek yogurt are ideal nighttime foods because they are easier to break down and digest. However, fatty foods such as burgers, chips, and fried foods are much harder to digest and should be avoided.
Other foods you should avoid at night are caffeine and alcohol.
The best time to stop eating is 3 hours before bed so that you can give your body enough time to digest the food. Give yourself enough time so that you don't wake up in the middle of the night to answer nature calls.
If you take your dinner early, have an evening snack to avoid disrupting your sleep with hunger pangs.
Set the sleep mood
Setting the right mood for sleep comes down to sleep hygiene. Good sleep hygiene makes it much easier to fall asleep and leads to better sleep quality. So, start by having a specific time for going to bed.
Sleep experts recommend going to bed at 10 pm. But this rule is not cast in stone; once you feel sleepy at night, go to bed.
Create a bedtime routine
This is perhaps the most crucial element of restoring a sleep schedule. Once you've settled on an ideal bedtime, plan and stick to your routine of bedtime activities. You can start by taking a warm bath. Some soft, slow music might help relax you further.
If you're using CBD-based sleep aids, take the recommended dose and hop into bed. If you're still not sleepy, you can read a book or do a less engaging activity.
Exposure to natural sunlight
Sunlight can be an effective sleep stimulant. If you're struggling to sleep, primarily due to a disoriented circadian rhythm or insomnia, you could try basking more often in the morning sunlight.
The sun's rays are believed to foster serotonin production, which is a mood and sleep booster. Nonetheless, if leisurely morning walks aren't practical, try to get smaller amounts of exposure by opening the car windows while driving to work or at the office.
Natural sleep aids
Remember the CBD products we suggested you can include in your bedtime routine? Well, we've got exactly that!
FOCL's CBD products are professionally formulated and third-party tested to the highest quality standards. They are designed to boost sleep quality significantly, relieve stress, and reduce pain and inflammation.
Is chronic sleeplessness affecting your overall wellbeing? Our CBD + CBN Sleep Gummies are a powerful sleep aid that combines the sleep-improving properties of CBD and CBN to help you doze off quickly and wake up feeling well-rested. Each gummy has 15mg of CBN and 25mg of CBD to provide a gentle punch that gets you sleeping in no time.
Or are you more interested in a sleep aid that you dispense with once and for all and get on with your night's activities? FOCL Night is what you're looking for.
These come in the form of capsules that you ingest on the move. It combines the soothing power of five organic botanicals and premium hemp CBD to give you a whole night of deep restorative sleep. Each serving (2 capsules) contains 20 mg of CBD to relax your mind and make you fall asleep fast. It also helps with inflammation and aids in rapid recovery from stress.
You can also try our best of the bunch FOCL x Ali Manno Sleep Bundle. This potent combo combines FOCL Night and FOCL Sleep Drops to give you deep restorative sleep. Its powerful blend of herbs and adaptogens supports rest, recovery, and a better night's sleep. Take two capsules every evening before getting to bed to help your drift effortlessly into slumberland!