How to Reset Your Sleep Routine

Break out of that cycle by ensuring you have plenty of activity in your day. The same study showed that “morning people” are more physically active during the day. Using that logic, regular morning workouts should help you lead more active days and sleep better at night!

How Does a Sleep Routine Get Thrown Off?

  • Jet lag: Associated with rapid traveling across multiple time zones, jet lag occurs when the body’s internal clock is at odds with the day-night cycle at the travel destination.
  • Shift work: People who work night shifts have to be awake when it’s dark and sleep when the sun’s out, disrupting normal circadian synchronization.
  • Advanced or delayed sleep timing: Some people are extreme “early birds” or “night owls,” meaning that their sleep timing, also known as their sleep phase, is shifted forward or back by several hours.
  • Artificial light exposure: Biologically, the circadian rhythm developed to correspond to sunlight long before electricity was invented. However, the brain responds to artificial light as well, which means that constant exposure to indoor lighting as well as electronic devices like cell phones, tablets, televisions, and computers can interfere with typical signals that convey whether it’s day or night.
  • Fluctuating sleep hours: Many people have no set bedtime or wake-up time. Their sleep schedule can swing wildly back and forth from one day to the next or between weekdays and weekends, which prevents establishing a steady sleep pattern.
  • Behavior choices: Deciding to stay up late or wake up early to study, play sports, or take part in social activities can throw off normal sleep routines.
  • Caffeine and energy drinks: Stimulants may help you feel alert, but they can upset the body’s ability to naturally balance sleep and wakefulness, making it more difficult to sleep when you need to.
  • Stress and emotional difficulties: Many sleeping problems are tied to stress, anxiety, depression, and other emotional or mental health problems. These conditions can cause the mind to race when it’s time for sleep or cause sleepiness during the day when you should be awake, foiling hopes of a consistent and healthy sleep routine.

A key first step is to reset your sleep schedule. Pick a bedtime and wake-up time that you can stick with and that offer ample time for the sleep you need. Follow this schedule every day, even on weekends.

In order to gradually adjust to a new sleep schedule, you can make adjustments in 15 or 30 minute increments over a series of days. You can also focus first on the wake-up time, creating one fixed part of your schedule, and then use the tips described below to modify your sleep habits so that you can incrementally get used to falling asleep at your scheduled bedtime.

What Is the Ideal Time To Go To Bed and Wake-Up?

There is no single ideal time for going to bed and waking up that is best for everyone. In general, in order to synchronize your circadian rhythm, you should try to wake up around the start of daylight hours and wind down and get ready for bed when it gets dark in the evening.

That said, daylight hours can vary significantly based on your geographic location, and for many people, it’s impractical to follow a sleep schedule that strictly follows the day-night cycle. For that reason, the general principles to follow are that your bedtime and wake-up time should:

What Are the Best Tips for Resetting Your Sleep Routine?

Sleep hygiene plays an essential role in making your sleep routine effective. One fundamental part of sleep hygiene is ensuring that your daily habits and sleep environment are conducive to sleep and work in your favor:

  • Get a daily dose of natural light: Because daylight is a vital influence on your circadian rhythm, exposure to natural light can promote better synchronization of your internal clock.
  • Reduce artificial lighting at night: Keeping your lights on long into the evening can prevent your body from properly transitioning toward sleep. Try using a dimmer or low-wattage lamp to minimize the brightness of indoor lighting.
  • Cut down on evening screen time: Cell phones and other devices are sources of excess mental stimulation and emit blue light that can affect circadian timing. To avoid the negative effects of screen time on sleep, try not to use your phone, tablet, or laptop for at least an hour before bed.
  • Commit to physical activity: Regular exercise is good not only for your cardiovascular health but also for your sleep. You don’t have to be a triathlete to get these benefits; even mild physical activity like going for a walk can be beneficial, and it’s a great opportunity to get daylight exposure. If you are going to do intense exercise, try to finish your workout at least an hour before bed.
  • Have a bedtime routine: Consistent cues can play a powerful psychological role in routines. For this reason, try to follow the same steps each night before going to bed such as dimming the lights, quietly reading or stretching, putting on pajamas, and brushing your teeth. Over time, those actions become cues that tell you that it’s time for sleep.
  • Develop a personal relaxation plan: Being able to relax both mentally and physically is a major contributor to falling asleep easily. Regardless of whether it’s meditation, yoga, listening to soothing music, reading, or another activity, make time in your bedtime routine for whatever relaxation method that allows you to wind down.
  • Be careful with naps: There are times during the day when your energy level dips and you may be tempted to nap. While naps can be restorative in some cases, they can disrupt your sleep routine if you’re not careful. As a general rule, try to keep naps under 30 minutes and only early in the afternoon so that they don’t make it harder to get to sleep at night.
  • Limit alcohol and caffeine: Both alcohol and caffeine can be detrimental to a healthy sleep routine. Alcohol makes you sleepy but affects your sleep cycle, making you prone to awakenings and lower-quality sleep as the night goes on. Caffeine makes you wired and alert and can linger in your system, frustrating attempts to fall asleep at bedtime. As a result, it’s best to eliminate or reduce consumption of alcohol and caffeine, especially in the late afternoon and evening.
  • Cultivate an inviting sleep environment: You want your bedroom to be quiet and dark to avoid disruptions. A cool yet comfortable temperature and soothing smells, like lavender, may promote relaxation and provide cues for sleep. Finding the best mattress, best pillow, and bedding can make your bedroom a haven for comfort and rest.

Resetting Your Sleep Clock and Improving Your Rest

1. Manipulate Lighting

Research suggests that manipulating light exposure may help reset the body clock, particularly for disturbances caused by jet lag. Light remains a key focus of researchers, and is often a point of treatment for sleep phase disorders.

The daily cycles of lightness and darkness are a key “zeitgeber” or cue that acts on the mechanisms of your sleep clock and circadian rhythm. Retinal ganglion cells in your eyes detect light cycles and transmit information to your SCN. In the presence of light, the SCN prompts the pineal gland to produce melatonin (the sleep hormone). When melatonin levels are high (in the absence of light), you grow drowsy and fall asleep. When your body senses light again, it ceases melatonin production to wake you.

Essentially, this means you should follow earth’s natural cues. Expose yourself to natural sunlight and bright light in the morning and throughout the day. Start dimming lights in the evening as the sun winds down, with your bedroom being virtually black and devoid of any screens.

Of course, you’ll want to limit screen time and strategically avoid blue light while resetting your sleep schedule. Blue light can trick your body into thinking its daytime when it’s really dark outside. Devices such as laptops, televisions, and cell phones all emit blue light. The longer you expose yourself to this light in the evening, the longer melatonin production is delayed. To prevent hindering your own night’s sleep, utilize the Night Mode feature on your devices or avoid them altogether.

2. Fast, Then Normalize Meal Times

Harvard researchers found that, in animals, circadian rhythms shifted to match food availability. Researchers suggest that fasting for about 16 hours (for example during flight and until the next local meal time) could help reset sleep clocks for humans and reduce jetlag when traveling across time zones.

Once your sleep is back on track, stick to regular breakfast and dinner times to help support consistent circadian rhythms, with about 12 hours between breakfast and dinner. Eat dinner at least a few hours before bed, and a filling breakfast shortly after waking.

3. Go Camping

Since natural light schedules help aid the body’s circadian rhythm, it makes sense that spending plenty of time outdoors could help restore natural cycles. For your next vacation, consider taking to the tents to reset your sleep clock.

Fix Sleep Schedule

They found this natural pattern helped synchronize biological clocks to solar time, with people sleeping earlier and waking earlier than in their normal routines. The biggest changes were seen in evening types, or “night owls.”

4. Pull An All-Nighter (or All Day-er)

One approach to reverse temporary sleep clock setbacks is to stay up one full day until the next normal bed time. This method is essentially planned sleep deprivation, so it is best done under doctor supervision.

If you have been going to bed at 4 a.m. and waking at noon, you would wake at your normal time (perhaps on a Friday) then not sleep again until perhaps 10 p.m. the next day (Saturday). Light and mild activity could be helpful for staying awake.

5. Take Gradual Steps

For many people, slow and gradual changes are best when it comes to achieving long-term results. Small changes can also be easier on you physically and mentally, especially if you don’t have days to recover from sleep deficits.

Adjust your schedule by no more than 30 minutes per day, and remain at each phase until your body catches up to the changes. Once you are sleeping and waking at ideal times, don’t forget to maintain a consistent schedule every day of the week.

For example, if your sleep clock is running late by two hours, here’s a potential plan for getting back on track painlessly within one month. Each week, set your bedtime and wake time 15 minutes earlier on Sunday nights, then again on Wednesdays. After four weeks, you should be on back on track.

For large delays, it may actually be more helpful to push bedtimes forward by one to two hours until you reach a normal bedtime. If your sleep clock is delayed by several hours and gradual steps aren’t cutting it, a doctor or therapist may be able to plan a more regimented chronotherapy approach for your situation.

5 Culprits of Circadian Misalignment That Upset Your Sleep Schedule

how to reset sleep schedule: sleepy man trying to work

As much as your circadian rhythm tries to guide your sleep schedule, life and other factors often get in the way, causing circadian misalignment. Working against your internal clock not only leads to a high sleep debt but also predisposes you to lower energy levels during the day and even chronic health risks over time. Below, we share the top causes behind circadian misalignment that are upsetting your sleep schedule.

Light Exposure

Remember, light has the power to start and stop your circadian clock. Waking up earlier (or later) means the SCN in your brain isn’t receiving morning light and producing circadian alerting signals at its usual time. Subsequently, your circadian rhythm isn’t operating at its regular schedule, increasing the risk of circadian misalignment. As a result, you may not feel sleepy when you should be going to bed.

Many of us also regularly expose ourselves to artificial bright light too close to bedtime. In fact, a 2019 report listed cell phones as America’s favorite bedside companions. Unfortunately, your gadget’s light exposure inhibits melatonin production and makes it harder for you to fall asleep.

Social Jetlag

Ever heard of social jetlag? It’s a form of circadian misalignment in which a mismatch between your social and biological clocks leads to an irregular sleep-wake cycle. It’s mainly characterized by inconsistent sleep and wake times, such as staying up late and sleeping in on the weekends then abruptly shifting back to an early wake time on Monday mornings. Usually, the aftermath is sleep deprivation and excessive daytime sleepiness.

Travel Jetlag

Travel jetlag is similar to social jetlag. But, the root cause is differing time zones that throw your biological clock off balance. You may find it challenging to fall asleep or stay awake as your body does its best to catch up to the new time zone.

Dietary Stimulants

We often overlook the relationship between certain foods and the circadian clock. In some cases, your late-afternoon espresso may be why you’re having trouble falling asleep that night — caffeine can take as long as 10 hours to fully metabolize. Similarly, alcohol consumption incites sleep fragmentation, in which you wake up frequently during the night. Large evening meals can also disrupt your sleep patterns as they cause abdominal discomfort, indigestion, and even acid reflux. All these dietary factors make it harder for you to stick to your usual sleep schedule.

Bedtime Procrastination

Many of us are guilty of putting off sleep even when there’s nothing out of our control keeping us up — a common phenomenon known as bedtime procrastination. More often than not, our busy schedules leave us with little free time except the window of space before bed. A desire for self-care and downtime then leads to voracious consumption of all kinds of media or other ways of prolonging our bedtime. We become so preoccupied with our electronic devices, or whatever else we are procrastinating with, that we miss our bedtime and end up getting less sleep than we need.

How to Reset Your Sleep Schedule With RISE

You now know your circadian rhythm is the internal clock that governs your sleep schedule, and disrupting it can lead to circadian misalignment. So what can you do to realign your circadian clock and reset your sleep-wake cycle? It’s all about good sleep hygiene.

At Rise Science, we emphasize the importance of good sleep hygiene — something that isn’t possible without taking into account your circadian rhythm. Timing behaviors to your biology will help you effectively reset your sleep schedule. Besides that, we show you how sleep hygiene isn’t solely a sum of your nighttime habits; it’s also dependent on your daytime behaviors. Understanding that your days inform your nights, and vice versa, is key to establishing a virtuous cycle of better sleep for better wakefulness.

Whether you want to work your way around travel jetlag or keep up with a shift-work timetable, the RISE app offers easy-to-follow sleep hygiene tips tailored to your unique chronobiology. The result? Healthy, naturalistic sleep at night for better energy during the day.

Maintain a Consistent Sleep Schedule

RiseApp Melatonin Window screen

Consistency is key when it comes to resetting your sleep schedule (and also key once its reset). Regular sleep patterns help recalibrate your body clock and promote circadian alignment (again — this is essential for getting quality sleep). Here’s how to keep it consistent:

To help you fall asleep faster and sleep through the night, align your new sleep schedule with your Melatonin Window — you can view it on your energy schedule in the RISE app. Knowing your optimal window of time for falling asleep helps you plan your day ahead to hit the sack at your biological bedtime.

Be Mindful of Light Exposure

Just like how light is a potent circadian disruptor, it can also play a key role in resetting your sleep schedule. Bask in sunlight (or artificial bright light) the moment you rouse to signal to your brain that it’s time to wake up, especially when you’re traveling in a different time zone. Bright light is also effective in improving sleep at night. A 1993 study showed that bright light therapy reduced sleep fragmentation (you wake up less often during the night) and improved sleep efficiency (you spend more time in bed sleeping) from 77.5% to 90%.

But you should avoid light exposure in the hours before bed or wear blue-light blocking glasses. Research indicates light restriction in the evening, coupled with bright light exposure in the morning, led to earlier sleep and wake times for people with delayed sleep phase syndrome (a late sleep-wake cycle).

That said, you can make evening light exposure work for you if you’re a night-shift worker. The Journal of Sleep discovered night shift workers who expose themselves to bright light during the night and wear dark goggles when traveling home during the day managed to sync their biological schedules with their work hours.

RISE can help you manage your light exposure to reset your sleep schedule. Go to the “Energy” tab in the app and add the “Block All Blue Light” habit to your energy schedule. Turn on the in-app reminders so you don’t forget to wear your blue-light blocking glasses in the few hours before bed.

Curtail Sleep-Barring Substances Before Bed

As previously mentioned, caffeine, alcohol, and large meals have the power to delay your sleep time and screw up your regular programming. RISE can help you avoid that by sending you timely reminders on when to stop consuming them. Go to the “Energy” tab and add the following habits to your energy schedule:

That said, if you’re planning to stay up later than usual — for example, if you’re tackling travel jetlag — you can consider a cup of joe. Research indicates combining caffeine with a short nap (no more than 15 minutes) significantly reduces sleepiness to help you feel more awake.

Schedule an Evening Wind-Down

RiseApp Evening Routine screen

An evening wind-down is essential to resetting your sleep schedule. If you don’t mentally and physically decelerate before bed, you will likely not fall asleep. As you can imagine, the prolonged sleep latency (you take longer to fall asleep) may further throw off your sleep schedule. On top of that, an intentionally scheduled wind down before bed is an effective tool to prevent sleep procrastination from sneaking up on you.

RISE can help you customize your evening wind-down to become part of your bedtime routine based on your unique needs and preferences. Go to the “Energy” tab and add the “Evening Routine” habit to your energy schedule. Choose between activities like:

Get Comfortable

A crown resting on a Casper brand mattress and pillow. Illustration

While trying to maintain a healthy sleep schedule, or if you’re trying to fall asleep earlier to reset your rhythm, it’s important to optimize your sleeping arrangements. This means creating a comfortable, relaxing environment in your bedroom. It also means making sure your mattress and bedding are comfortable.

A broken clock with a painful stomach, weight scale, and foggy brain circling around it. Illustration

Your body will typically regulate its daily rhythm based on factors like light exposure, meals and exercise as well as temperature and hormone levels. These indicators help your body know when it’s time to sleep at night and when to be awake during the day.

However, these rhythms can get thrown off course, resulting in symptoms that are less than desirable. Jet lag is one example of your circadian rhythm getting disturbed by travel, but your daily rhythm can be thrown off by night shifts and sleep disorders as well.

When should you be worried that your circadian rhythm is off? You should consider rectifying your sleep schedule if you’re unable to sleep when the sun sets and wake when the sun rises. You may want to consider seeing a doctor if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:

There are many things that can mess with your sleep schedule. Luckily, practicing good sleep hygiene can help get you back on track. If you remember to stick to a schedule, avoid stimulants and heavy meals before bed, and stay active during the day, you should be able to sleep better at night.

You should also make sure your sleep environment is comfortable, quiet and cool. A Casper Original Mattress could be one step toward an improved sleep environment, because they’re built to trap heat and help you stay cool and comfortable while you’re sleeping. Set yourself up for success by choosing ultra-comfortable bedding too!


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