How to Fix Your Sleep Schedule

Medically approved by
Dr Earim Chaudry
Last updated
6th November 2021

In 30 seconds…

If you are struggling to get to sleep at night, a disrupted sleep cycle might be to blame. Jet lag, work shifts, health problems or just normal, everyday habits could be the cause. Luckily, though, it’s possible to reset it.

So, how to fix your sleep schedule? You’ll need to start in the morning. Exposing yourself to natural light as soon as you wake can reset your circadian rhythm. Exercise and relaxation practice throughout the day – while avoiding naps – can help too.

Then, good sleep hygiene will be your best friend. Keep your bedroom cool, comfortable, quiet, and free from devices. Sleep supplements can make things easier.

Optimising Your Sleep Cycle

We tend to feel sleepy at roughly the same time every night. For some of us, this can be precisely when we want to go to bed. For others, it might happen at an inconvenient time – or not at all. That can mean a poor night’s sleep, or else a very late start in the morning.

All of this is down to your body clock or sleep cycle — which can be affected by everything from lifestyle habits to work and travel.

So, how to fix your sleep schedule? Here, we’ve got some tips to try.

Why is My Sleep Schedule Off?

While some of us are blessed with easy sleep, many struggle. In fact, one study recently found that as many as one in five Brits have problems with their sleep. Meanwhile, even among those who take good sleep for granted, there can be times when it’s not so easy.

That’s because many things can knock your sleep schedule off, from lifestyle changes to medical conditions:

  • Jet lag and long-distance travel: When travelling across time zones, it’s normal for your internal clock to be affected. Usually, it will reset by itself, but it can be frustrating until that happens.
  • Work and night shifts: If you have a changing work schedule – mainly when doing shift work at night – your sleep cycle can suffer. Unfortunately, that’s normal, but it can affect your broader wellbeing and your ability at work.
  • All-nighters: Staying up late regularly – for parties, assignments, or just because – can have an impact on your ability to sleep when you would like to.
  • Insomnia: Insomnia can make you struggle to fall asleep or make you wake up during the night or earlier than you would like. It’s one of the most common sleep disorders out there, affecting as many as one in three people.
  • Advanced or delayed sleep phase disorders: Sometimes, our circadian rhythms – the pattern with which our bodies respond to light and dark – can function differently. People with delayed sleep phase disorders may struggle to sleep until very late and will often wake up very late too. Similarly, those with advanced sleep phase disorder may fall asleep and wake up earlier than most people.
  • Mental health problems: Sometimes, depression and anxiety can make it difficult to fall asleep and may cause you to wake up during the night. 

How to Fix Your Sleep Schedule?

The good news is, there are plenty of ways to fix your sleep schedule — and get better sleep in the long run. These can include medications such as melatonin and promethazine, or steps you can take to improve your sleep hygiene.

Let’s take a look at some of the most effective.

  • Exercise: As long as you don’t do it right before you go to bed, exercise is one of the most effective sleep aids out there. That’s because it makes you physically tired and mentally relaxed.
  • Expose yourself to light: Your body’s sleep-wake cycle is largely aligned with natural light. Being outside early in the morning can help your body wake up. Avoiding bright lights before bed can help you wind down.
  • Create an optimal sleep environment: The place where you sleep should be cool, well-ventilated, quiet, and dark. These are generally the conditions in which it’s easiest to fall asleep. Earplugs and an eye mask can help.
  • Stay away from screens: Cell phones, tablets, computers, and other electronic devices have all been associated with reduced sleep quality. That’s mainly because of the combination of blue light and the disruptions and distractions of notifications. If you can, keep them out of the bedroom.
  • Skip naps: If your biological clock has been disrupted by jet lag or night shifts, it’s vital to avoid naps to help your sleep schedule reset. With naps, sleepiness might not come round in the evening when you would like it.
  • Be consistent: Your circadian clock wants to be regular. Having a bedtime routine at the same time every day – and a regular wake-up time – will help train yourself into a consistent sleep schedule.
  • Avoid stimulants: It can feel hard to get through the day without caffeine when you’re sleep-deprived. But, unfortunately, these can exacerbate your sleep problems even further – particularly if you’re drinking coffee after lunch or late in the afternoon.

What to Take to Help You Sleep Better?

Now for some therapeutic options:

  • Sleep supplements: Sleep supplements containing science-backed ingredients including chamomile, tart cherry, and lemon balm can be a natural way to boost healthy sleep.
  • Melatonin: A hormone produced naturally by your body, melatonin can also be taken through sleep supplements. It can help you regulate your sleep schedule by helping you fall asleep when it’s dark and wake up when it’s light.
  • Promethazine: An antihistamine that is often used as a sleep aid, you’ll find it most famously in Night Nurse. It can help get you to sleep, but you might feel a little drowsy during the day.

Find out more: Promethazine Side Effects: What to Know

How Long Does It Take to Adjust to a New Sleep Schedule?

Adjusting to your new sleep schedule won’t happen immediately. There’s no quick fix for a disrupted sleep routine. And so, be aware, you may feel sleepy at different times throughout the day until your body can adjust. 

Note: If you’re employed in manual work or in a role that involves driving or heavy lifting, it’s important to be very careful during this time.

Adjusting your sleep schedule can take as little as a couple of days to a few weeks, depending on just how disrupted your schedule is. If you’re a little jetlagged, it won’t take long to see results. But for more severe disruptions, expect a little longer. 

No matter how serious the disruption, adjusting will happen far quicker if you practice good sleep hygiene.

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Key Takeaways

There are many reasons why your sleep schedule might be disrupted — from lifestyle choices to some medical conditions. Yet, no matter the cause, it’s usually possible to get back to normal.

So, how to fix your sleep schedule? Start with changes to your routine like exercise, setting a regular bedtime, and avoiding electronic devices for at least an hour before sleeping. Meanwhile, sleep supplements – such as Manual’s Good Nights – can help you relax.

While we've ensured that everything you read on the Health Centre is medically reviewed and approved, information presented here is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

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