You can’t stay up all night, go to sleep at 10 p.m. the following night and have a perfect sleep schedule from that point on. Believe me, I’ve tried. Unfortunately, there’s no quick fix for a solid sleeping schedule, but there is hope. Whether you’re trying to adjust your sleep schedule from the time you spent abroad, for your new internship or just because you feel silly waking up at 2 p.m., here’s a few ways you can get your sleep schedule back on track.
Get off your phone
Laptop, tablet, whatever — your devices will be there tomorrow morning. Don’t you dare start that new season on Netflix or swipe to refresh your Twitter feed “one last time” while you’re in bed. Trying to sleep is obviously not as fun as seeing what your ex has been up to recently on Facebook, but creeping is absolutely killing your ability to sleep by suppressing melatonin production. Your body can tell it’s time to sleep when there’s no light, and if you’re directly looking at a source of light, there’s no way your body can get that cue.
Try not to snack after dinner
Your body not only gets the go ahead to sleep from the lights dimming, but also the absence of food. By no means should you go to bed on an empty stomach, but feeling full and heavy causes tossing and turning. If you ate an early dinner or didn’t eat dinner all together, try dairy. People always say that a glass of warm milk or tea will help you sleep, but the truth is that any dairy product or warm beverage can help. Dark chocolate can also help because it has serotonin. Although alcohol can make you sleepy, it also ruins the continuity of your REM cycle — keep in mind that those last beers will hurt you more than they’ll help.
Get up at the same time EVERY day
The weekend may be your only two days to sleep in, but sleeping in makes you loose all the hard work you’ve done locking in a sleep schedule during the week. There’s going to be a point where you don’t even need to set an alarm on weekends because your schedule is so on point that you’ll wake up anyway, and not even want to sleep until noon. Hang in there, champ.
Persevere, but don’t stress
Stick to the schedule you’ve set for yourself as much as possible, but don’t freak out if you screw up. There are going to be those frat parties that you just can’t bear to leave and all-nighters because you forgot about an assignment. This doesn’t mean you need to go on a bender or hate yourself; the key is to not give up. Instead, try to stick to the exact times you sleep and wake up, despite what you did during the hours leading to bedtime. If you absolutely must, a power nap between 15 to 20 minutes long can help you feel refreshed. Just be careful, because 30 or more minutes can make you feel groggy, hungry and unable to sleep that night.
Talk to your doctor
There’s no point in getting frustrated and feeling hopeless because you can’t manage to get your 7.5 hours. It might not even be your fault. If you find yourself unable to transition into dreamland after an extended period of time, reach out to a medical professional. You could have one of dozens of sleep disorders.
*Updated on November 30, 2017 by Louise Nessralla to include an original video.