“Nothing good happens after 2am,” at least according to popular sitcom How I Met Your Mother.
There’s a high chance this is true – especially when you’ve got to be at work by 8am the next morning!
Some of us are naturally night owls. Breaking the habit of sleeping late may be a challenging feat. It’s normal – you could feel you deserve the free time after a tiring day at work. Maybe there’s a new season of the Handmaid’s Tale up. EITHER WAY, the first step to changing is to acknowledge that these habits are unhealthy. And if you want to feel less grumpy in the morning, sleeping late has to end.
You’re already halfway there once you acknowledge it. All you need to do is follow the next few steps to fully transform your sleeping habits.
1. Condition Your Mind and Plan Your Day/Night Ahead
So you don’t fall into the cycle again, try establishing your schedule for the day or at least the night. Visualise how the steps leading to bed will go. Psyching your mind that you need to do a thing or two a tad bit earlier is crucial.
You wouldn’t want to sacrifice anything without being briefed first, right? (I mean, missing an entire night’s worth of series is a sacrifice. Who knows when you’ll see a spoiler?)
Plan for a GRADUAL Change
Don’t go big just yet! Remember that you’re dealing with a bigger enemy here – your body clock. It knows everything about you – what time you wake up, sleep, work, eat, and watch TV. And it’s been pre-conditioned to do that same routine for a long time now.
If you currently go to sleep at midnight, conditioning your mind to sleep at 9pm the next night simply WON’T CUT IT.
At the end of the day, your circadian rhythm regulates your wakefulness. It’s not as easy as a haphazard shift. Forcing yourself to sleep early can get counterproductive in the end.
Changing your bedtime is trial and error. You have to see what works best for you.
2. Workout Earlier
Pop culture has romanticised late-night jogging in the neighbourhood. But it could be a culprit in keeping you awake!
Working out vigorously late at night can spike up your adrenaline. Studies suggest leaving at least two hours between working out and bedtime work best to get your mind back in a relaxed state.
If you can, work out in the morning instead. You’re using the adrenaline rush correctly and the energy can be well distributed into daylight hours. That’s if you are successful in your first attempt at sleeping early!
Related Article: Can we work out before sleep?
3. Avoid Stimulants and Nicotine
Stimulants work precisely to stimulate and keep your mind in the works hours after a beverage. If you know how much caffeine tolerance you have, you’d know when to stop consuming it. If you don’t, sizable portions of coffee, chocolates, tea, or nicotine 3 hours before bedtime are a big no-no.
Did you know that in just an hour caffeine can fully infiltrate your bloodstream and may take hours to wane? So sorry, co-coffee-holics. We’ve got to battle this one out!
4. Avoid Napping Close to Bedtime
Naps are great – but you have to choose when to do them. Napping 30 minutes before your bedtime may cause a slight spike in energy levels.
5. Take a Hot Shower
The timing for taking a night shower is important. You don’t want to be taking it directly before sleeping.
Shower at least 90 minutes before bedtime. This allows your body to cool down – inducing a good sleep environment. You’re even fresh and dry for bed!
6. Lights Off
Your melatonin levels are impacted by light exposure. If you try to dim or turn the lights off completely, it creates an environment conducive to sleep.
Avoid Devices That Keep You Awake
You know well what to avoid at night – no phones nor laptops! Phones emit light that can send a signal to your brain that it’s not sleeping time just yet.
Give it up. Really.
7. Get In Bed Earlier than Usual
Remember to do it GRADUALLY. You may want to start with 15-30 minutes earlier so as to not be abrupt. Do it in healthy increments and work your way up. Eventually, your body clock will adapt to your new patterns and will adjust accordingly.
For instance, if you sleep at midnight, try doing 11.45pm, 11.30, and then 11.15 until you reach your desired sleeping time.
8. Wake Up Earlier than Usual
Can’t seem to get in bed earlier than usual? Try reversing it – wake up earlier than usual just for ONE DAY. The goal is to feel tired earlier to get in bed earlier.
Interestingly, some people even find more solace in quality sleep than quantity sleep. If you wake up in the deep sleep stage of your slumber, chances are you’ll feel groggy in the morning – regardless of how many hours you slept.
This has led to some people timing their sleep to complete at least 5-6 cycles of each stage per night! When done right, you can avoid waking up mid-cycle. See if it works for you, too.
If You Still Can’t Sleep after All These…
- Move to another room. Try to establish the association that your bed is only for sleeping. Any other activities must be performed elsewhere.
- Listen to soothing music. Look up some playlists on Spotify, or even some apps to lull you into sleep. (e.g., white noise apps, podcasts)
- Adjust the temperature. A slight drop in temperature may be the answer to your late-night sleeping!
- Seek professional help. If none of the steps is working, it’s time pay your GP a visit.
Related Article: 10 Things That Could Be Messing With Your Sleep
Once You Find Your Rhythm, Be Consistent
When your body finally adapts to sleeping earlier, keep it consistent. In fact, studies show that regular sleeping habits lead to better performance.
At the end of the day, it’s a win-win situation. Better sleep, better performance, better mood, and a better you!
(PRO TIP: Watch TV when you get home or on the weekends instead)