- More than a third of American adults aren’t recommended to get more than 7 hours of sleep each night.
- If one of your New Year’s goals is to improve your sleep habits, there are several ways to start sleeping better, including prioritizing consistency.
- Experts recommend adjusting your sleep schedule by 15 minutes each night rather than trying to make drastic changes overnight.
It doesn’t feel like a good night’s sleep, but many of us still struggle to fall asleep at the right time.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in three U.S. adults does not get enough sleep on a regular basis (at least seven hours each night). Chronic sleep deprivation is associated with an increased risk of developing conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and frequent emotional distress.
Despite this well-established fact, maintaining a consistent sleep schedule can be difficult. Many people suffer from procrastinating revenge bedtime. This is a common phenomenon in which individuals sacrifice sleep hours in order to relax or engage in activities they were unable to do earlier in the day. As such, consistently going to bed early is a common New Year’s resolution, even though it’s hard to follow.
Improving my sleep habits was on my New Year’s goal list, but if you’ve already blown it away with a late-night Netflix binge, fear not.It’s too late to catch more Z’s. It is not.
maintain a consistent sleep schedule
Harvard Medical School sleep researcher Rebecca Robbins, MMSci, PhD, says a consistent sleep schedule helps regulate circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms are internal processes that control the sleep-wake cycle and repeat approximately every 24 hours. When this system is adjusted, it will be easier for you to fall asleep and wake up, and your overall sleep quality will improve.
“Consistency is just as important, if not more important, than sleep time,” Robbins told Verywell.
A study of more than 2,000 medical interns found that variations in sleep schedules had a significant impact on mood and symptoms of depression, regardless of sleep duration variations.
Another recent study found that late bedtimes and high sleep variability were generally associated with adverse health effects.
Sleeping during the dark hours and staying awake during the light hours also helps regulate your circadian rhythm, said Robbins. Light exposure just before bedtime alters melatonin levels, making it harder to fall asleep.
Ideally, people should go to bed a few hours after sunset and wake up around sunrise, but this schedule is not possible for those with late-night work shifts or family obligations.
Rayni Collins of LPC, an online sleep therapist, says that “night owls” try to fall asleep at a set time, no matter how late, and can try to sleep at least seven hours a night. says.
“You have to plan a bedtime that allows you to get the bare minimum amount of sleep,” Collins told Verywell.
However, if you want to go to bed earlier, rather than making drastic changes to your sleep schedule, Robbins recommends moving your bedtime forward by 15 minutes each night.
How to wake up after midnight
There are nights when we go to bed a little too late or toss and turn for hours despite our best efforts. But there are some handy ways to bounce back after a bad night’s sleep.
“If you’ve had a sleep-deprived night and you’re really tired the next day, you might want to consider a short nap to get you through the rest of the day,” Robbins said.
She said that if you’re feeling extremely sleep-deprived, a 20-minute nap in the afternoon might help. She added that getting back on track as quickly as possible is of the utmost importance.
“This may take a few days. Take a short nap in the afternoon, start your bedtime a little earlier, get some more sleep, and then get back to normal,” she said. .
How to improve your sleep hygiene
If you just want to improve your general sleep habits and quality, there are many ways to improve your sleep hygiene.
The CDC recommends making sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, relaxing, and at a comfortable temperature. It also suggests removing electronics such as televisions, computers, and smartphones from your bedroom.
Avoiding large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bed is also a good idea, and doing some physical activity throughout the day can make it easier to fall asleep at night.
And remember: taking a night off is completely normal and nothing to worry about, but if you’re worried that you’re constantly having trouble sleeping, see your doctor.
what this means for you
If you’ve been wanting to improve your sleep schedule but you’re always staying up late, focus on being consistent. Going to bed and waking up at regular times is one of the best ways to regulate your circadian rhythm and get quality sleep.
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed research, to back up the facts in its articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
Fang Y, Forger DB, Frank E, Sen S, Goldstein C. Daily variability in sleep parameters and depression risk: a prospective cohort study of residents. NPJ Digitmed2021;4(1):28.doi:10.1038/s41746-021-00400-z
Chaput JP, Dutil C, Featherstone R, et al. Sleep timing, sleep consistency, and adult health: a systematic review. Apple Physiol Nutr Metab2020;45(10 (Suppl. 2)):S232-S247.doi:10.1139/apnm-2020-0032
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