It has a name. It’s called Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome and upsets the time clock of about 15% of teens and adults. DSPS means you can’t fall asleep when you’d like to and it’s hard to wake when most people are up and going. For an individual with DSPS, it means falling asleep several hours past their preferred bedtime and being forced to wake up against their circadian rhythm to meet their daytime schedule. Here are 6 ways to change your internal clock.
1. Take It Slow. Try changing your bedtime about an hour at a time (or less) until you reach your sleeping goal. You may have to ask your doctor for help, but taking it slow and easy may allow you to reset your clock on your own. Don’t rush the process. Scale back and stick with a time until it feels natural.
2. No Sleeping In. Fellow night owls know that hurts! But, to be successful, you need to wake up at a set time. Don’t hit the snooze button. Get up when the alarm goes off at the hour you’ve decided is your morning wake-up time!
3. Be Strict. As you get to a more workable bedtime, stick with it. If you decide that weekends are for staying up very late and sleeping in the next morning, you can lose the progress you’ve made in changing your sleep pattern.
4. No Naps. You’re trying to reset your circadian rhythm and napping is not going to help. No matter if you feel tired and would like to catch a quick snooze. Don’t.
5. Be Dim. Light is what regulates our body clock so use light accordingly. Step outside when you wake up and enjoy the morning sunshine or turn on your brightest lights. Do the opposite at night. Try to avoid bright light (and especially the bright blue light of tablets and smartphones) for at least an hour before bed. You might want to try the outdoors again. Step out and enjoy the cool night air when the weather is nice and watch the moon and the stars.
Stick with your new routine and be sure to set a sleepy-time mood with a warm bath, relaxing music and a cool bedroom. Your bed should be a sleep haven with clean sheets and a super comfortable mattress. If you’ve been putting off replacing an old mattress, don’t. Try shopping on the Internet for great deals on new inexpensive mattresses.