How to Reset Your Body Clock in Three Nights, Revealed
Did you know that 40% of the British public suffer from sleep deprivation? As well as causing general fatigue, people who suffer from sleep deprivation are at risk of serious medical conditions, such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes and more.
However, the good news is that further studies show that it takes just three to four nights of high-quality sleep to recover from deprivation.
To help those who suffer from a troubled slumber, we’ve created a three-day guide to reset your body clock – giving you the perfect excuse to sleep in on a long weekend.
Day One: Saturday
Today's wake-up time: 10 a.m
Today's bedtime: 11 p.m
1. Complete a 30-minute workout in the morning
Studies show that exercise and sleep are deeply interconnected. Exercising can improve your sleep quality and duration of sleep, whilst a healthy sleep-wake cycle ensures more strength and endurance when working out.
With this in mind, we would recommend exercising for a minimum of thirty minutes this morning. Whether that’s cardio or strength training – it’s really down to your personal preference.
2. Drink at least 2 litres of water to give an energy boost
Today, you should drink a minimum of two litres of water as keeping hydrated is not only proven to be energy-boosting, but it can boost your metabolism, too. Even mild dehydration can leave you feeling sleepy and tired, whilst negatively disrupting your mood.
3. Use lighting (or lack of it) to notify your brain of the different points in the day
Light is the most important external factor affecting sleep. It plays a central role in regulating our body’s internal clock, otherwise known as our circadian rhythm. This signals when to be alert and when to rest.
That’s why it’s important to expose yourself to natural sunlight and bright light in the morning and throughout the day. Then when the sun starts to wind down, or when you’re resting in the afternoon, start dimming your lights so that by the time you get to bed, your bedroom is virtually black.
This is also another reason why you should limit your use of your phone in the lead-up to bedtime. The blue light emitted on your phone screen can trick your mind into thinking that it's daytime despite it being dark outside. You should, therefore, always use the night mode feature on your phone at least three hours before you go to bed, or ideally, avoid your phone altogether.
4. Struggling to sleep? Try this five minute hack
As this is the first day of your body clock reset, naturally, you may still struggle to sleep. However, this quick tip should help you fall asleep faster as it tires your brain out and helps your mind off issues that are preventing you from sleeping.
Known as The Cognitive Shuffle, it involves you thinking of random items in your head that are easy to visualise, non-threatening and not directly related i.e. potatoes, Tarzan, a violin, a forest. If you produce a word that you can’t easily imagine, move onto another work. Or if you’re struggling to think of words, make your way through your alphabet, then repeat.
Day two: Sunday
Today's wake-up time: 8 a.m
Today's bedtime: 11 p.m
1. Open your curtains on a morning, so you stop producing this sleep hormone
As previously mentioned, it’s important to keep your circadian rhythm in check, so that your body knows that it’s time to be awake and tackle the day. You should, therefore, open the curtains and blinds as soon as you wake up. If you’re tired after a relatively early alarm, this will help you wake up faster. Being exposed to bright natural light signals your brain to stop producing the sleep hormone, melatonin, which makes you feel drowsy.
2. Go for a walk
You should go for a walk as this will help increase your vitamin D intake. Just 10 minutes spent in the sun can help boost your serotonin and stop you from feeling sleepy and/or sad. Plus, moving more is proven to help you sleep better, so you should try to move as much as you can throughout the week. It will help you feel tired that night, and you’ll sleep better.
3. If tired, have an afternoon nap but do it the right way
When done right, napping can offer great benefits – which is why so many cultures around the world are known for it, such as the Spanish, Italians amongst others. A simple nap has many benefits from reducing fatigue to increasing alertness and, of course, improving your mood.
However, for a nap to be beneficial, there’s good science to it. Firstly, you must only sleep for between 10-20 minutes, as anything longer than 30 minutes can risk being groggy as your body will have entered a deep sleep cycle.
You also need to time your nap right. As your alertness naturally dips in the afternoon, you should pay attention to when you start to feel drowsy and nap straight away (if possible). However, this should be at least 8 hours before your bedtime, as if not, it can impact your sleep that night.
4. Only allow yourself to have one unit of alcohol
Given that it’s a Bank Holiday, you may be tempted to have an alcoholic beverage tonight, however, you should only allow yourself one unit and drink it at least four hours before bedtime.
Whilst alcohol can make you feel sleepy due to its sedative properties and, therefore, allow you to fall asleep more quickly – your quality of sleep that night will not be high. Research shows that people who drink before bed are likely to experience disruptions later in their sleep cycle and can lead to excessive daytime sleepiness the following date.
Day three: Monday
Today’s wake-up time: 6/7 a.m (depending on what time you get up for work)
Today’s bedtime: 10 p.m
Whilst you may think that waking up at 6/7 a.m. on a Bank Holiday Monday isn’t restful, you’ll still have gotten eight hours sleep which is the recommended amount. However, moving forward, you should wake up this at this time every day, as this will help your circadian rhythm.
1. Eat breakfast to give yourself an energy boost
Research has repeatedly shown that your diet and sleep quality are linked, meaning that a poor diet can cause sleep debt. First and foremost, you should never skip breakfast, as it plays an important role in wakefulness.
A balanced breakfast that is adequate in protein and healthy fats can help kickstart your morning off with an energy boost. Consume protein from eggs, plain Greek yoghurt, cottage cheese or lean meats. Healthy fats can be found in avocado, olive oil, nuts and seeds, and nut butter.
2. Never drink 5-7 hours before bed
Whilst caffeine can provide a short-term energy boost, it takes an average of 5 hours to eliminate half the amount of consumed caffeine. With this in mind, never drink coffee 5-7 hours before bed, and keep your intake to two cups as a maximum.
3. Create a winding down routine to reduce your stress hormone
When you’re stressed or anxious, your body produces more of the stress hormone, cortisol. The higher the cortisol, the more awake you feel.
So, if you’re dreading going back to work tomorrow after a restful Bank Holiday, you should consider trying some calming activities before bedtime. This could include anything from yoga to stretching, meditating to deep breathing, journaling or even having a hot bath. All of these activities are proven to help you relax.
4. Play rain sounds to help you sleep more soundly
According to Dr Shelby Harris, “rain is predictable, calming, stable and non-threatening. Steady rainfall noises help lure the brain into falling asleep, block outside noises, and frequently induce a more meditative state that brings on relaxation”. That’s why you should consider listening to rain sounds to help you fall asleep soundly.
For more tips on how to sleep soundly, check out our Advice Centre packed with useful guides and resources.