Ask Angel – Sleep Schedule

How on earth do I fix my sleep schedule? – Zzzzz

Dear Zzzzz, 

This is an issue many teenagers are reporting. Teens are getting less and less sleep and countless studies have found this to be a significant problem, particularly in regards to keeping up with school while being sleep deprived. We’ve all heard the line “growing kids need at least 8 hours of sleep a night,” but this doesn’t seem like a possible task to complete once the sun sets and we start looking at our phones or watching Netflix. It’s easy to get off track and have a poor sleep schedule. However, it’s also important to recognize the problem and attempt to fix it because, at the end of the day, you function better with a good sleep schedule. Many methods work differently for every individual, so I will list out some of sleep specialists’ best tips for creating a consistent sleep schedule:

1. Adjust your body slowly. Day after day, slightly shift your bedtime so that it can be earlier overtime. For example, if you are used to going to bed at 2 am every night, try going to sleep at 1:40 tonight, 1:20 the next night, then 1 am the following night, etc. 

2. Avoid blue light before bed. Blue light from our phones can suppress our secretion of melatonin, a hormone that controls our sleep patterns. This is why it’s important to be off our phone at least an hour and a half before going to bed. 

3. Don’t take naps! If you’re feeling tired during the day, whatever you do, don’t take a nap. Studies show that napping is associated with shorter nighttime sleep the next night, which can throw off your internal clock.

4. Stick to a schedule. Sleep irregularity has been associated with difficulty falling asleep, reduced physical activity, increased daytime sleepiness, stress, depression and more. Consistent bedtimes and rise times can treat this and get you back on track. 

5. Limit your caffeine intake, specifically after lunch. Studies have confirmed that caffeine consumption interferes with sleep quality and quantity. 

6. Practice relaxation. Being more relaxed might help with falling asleep quicker. Some relaxing activities include yoga, meditation and journaling.

7. Consider talking to your doctor if this presents as an ongoing issue. If your sleep problems persist, you may have an undiagnosed sleeping disorder. 

I’ve had trouble sleeping, and I’ve had weeks where I couldn’t fall asleep before 1 am, but a lot of these tricks helped me get back into a more reliable sleep schedule. If you like tea, I would suggest you drink a decaf cup before bed to help relax. To be honest, this process is annoying, especially if you’re used to going to sleep late for months on end. At the end of the day, if you put in the work and try out different methods, you should be able to achieve 8+ hours of sleep a night and manage a more consistent bedtime and wake up time. Hope this helps!

All the best, 

Angel