A disrupted sleep schedule can wreak havoc on your hormones, leading to cravings, fatigue, and weight gain. Your work productivity might suffer, and you could feel grouchy and miserable most of the day. And of course, no one feels like exercising when they’re grumpy and tired. Sleep is clearly quite important to overall good health. But what do you do when your schedule has been disrupted?
Gradually break bad habits. If you’ve been staying up too late and then feeling awful all day, start going to bed thirty minutes earlier each night until you reach equilibrium. Once you begin to get through the day without energy crashes and mood fluctuations, you’ve found your ideal bedtime. Hint: This might actually require some adjustment in your wake-up time, too.
Don’t wildly shift your schedule on the weekends. A condition known as “social jetlag” involves drastically altering your sleep schedule over weekends, and then playing catch-up all week. The result is that you rarely feel your best, and you increase your risk of cardiovascular disease and insulin resistance. While it’s fine to sleep an extra hour or so on Saturday morning, resist the urge to become a nocturnal party animal.
Avoid screens. The light from TV or phone screens disrupts our circadian rhythms (natural sleep schedules), so that it become more difficult to fall asleep at a reasonable time. Avoid screen time for at least two hours before bed. If you must use a phone or computer, install a blue light filter.
Adjust your environment. Buy room darkening shades, a white noise machine, ear plugs, fan, or new bedding as needed. Yes, it’s a bit of an investment, but you do spend one third of your life in bed. It might as well be comfortable and “productive”, as far as sleep goes.
Try melatonin supplements. Your body produces melatonin to signal sleepy time to your body. But if your hormones are thrown off kilter, your melatonin production might be off, too. Melatonin supplementation can help your body to regulate over the short term, but avoid long term dependence.
If you have any other questions about living a healthy lifestyle, particularly with regard to weight or exercise, please give us a call. We can help you make the necessary adjustments to your eating or activity plans, to get you looking and feeling your best.