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How To Change A Sleep Pattern

Category: Sleep

It is said that the easiest way to simplify complicated concepts is to try explaining it to a kid. With a kid, all layers of complexity dissolve and you are left with the pure and core value of your concept – ditto when trying to make some kind of changes in you / your life.

This week as I observed how my three year old niece’s sleep timing was changed from late riser to early riser, I stumbled upon one of the simplest ways to change our sleeping pattern. It doesn’t matter whether you want to become an early riser / sleeper or a late riser / sleeper, I believe this tip to change your sleeping pattern should be helpful in either case. All you need to do is follow these three pointers –

How to Change Your Sleep Pattern

How To Change Your Sleep Routine

Determine your desired waking and sleeping time.

Based on ideal number of hours you need to sleep, decide what time would you like to wake up and go to sleep every day. It doesn’t matter what time do you wake up and go to sleep right now. Simply decide on your ideal sleeping and waking timings.

Reset your sleep clock by one hour.

If you would like to wake up early, then do so by an hour. If you would like to wake up late, then stay awake more for an hour. Don’t cover the entire distance between your current waking/sleeping time and your desired waking/sleeping time in one go. Change your timings one hour at a time but do so without fail. Stay consistent with this change till it comes naturally to you. And then, reset again.

Tire yourself through physical activity.

Do some heavy exercises – run, walk, cycle, play, swim, dance … anything that tires you. If you wish to sleep early, work your body earlier, if you wish to sleep late, do these physical activities a bit later. One will ensure you get tired and fall asleep earlier, second will ensure you stay awake longer than your usual hours (but not for too long) and wake up late.

And that’s it, you are all set to break your sleeping pattern and change it as you desire.

What I like about this method of changing sleep routine is that it is ridiculously simple. It would be difficult to make mistakes and mess up with these three pointers.

I had found a way to change my sleep timings and sleep early the last time I was struggling with a jet lag. These pointers are actually a great update to that method of becoming an early sleeper. Read more about do’s and don’ts of changing sleeping routine – and do share some of your tips.

Books On Sleep:

photo courtesy of porcelaingirl

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Reader's Comments

  1. Evelyn Lim | March 10th, 2009 at 7:57 am

    Ever since I started blogging, my sleep patterns have gone all haywire. I sleep much later than before and am unable to wake up early. I hope to change it somewhat. Thanks for the tips!

    Evelyn Lim´s last blog post..Making Sense Of Life Events

    Reply to this comment
    • Avani-Mehta | March 11th, 2009 at 2:18 am

      @Evelyn, I know what you are talking about. My sleep schedule has become unpredictable as well, all thanks to blogging. This has increased my curiosity on sleep related topics.

      @Maya, this is my last week in India. I post article once a week (Usually monday) to keep blog updated. Will get into full swing with posting and other blogging activities from April once I get settled.

      Reg sleep, Avoiding any form of caffiene and naps after noon helps. After what time, varies from person to person.

      Have food atleast three hours before going to sleep. Staying hungry or too full while going to bed hampers quality of sleep. I prefer to eat food early and then snack on nuts or fruits (if needed).

      I don’t know why this works, but a lot of people in my family vouch that having a glass of milk just before going to bed makes sleep easy to come. I don’t like milk so am not going to try out this one :)

      Just a suggestion – don’t work on discipline. Just jump into whatever you want to do. If you wait for discipline, you might keep waiting for a real long time.

      Reply to this comment
  2. Maya | March 10th, 2009 at 6:33 pm

    Hi Avani,

    Are you back?

    What effect does food and eating times have on sleep patterns? Any suggestions there?

    This is a great method that will work if I stick to it – but it seems like I need to work on some discipline first :)

    Maya´s last blog post..The One Hundred: A Guide to Pieces Every Happy and Balanced Soul Must Embrace: Simplicity

    Reply to this comment
  3. J.D. Meier | March 13th, 2009 at 12:36 am

    Good stuff.

    It’s funny how simple things can work.

    I remember the day I discovered the secret to waking up early. It’s go to bed earlier. Sure it sounds obvious now, but all I know is, it worked ;)

    J.D. Meier´s last blog post..Avoid Mental Burnout

    Reply to this comment
  4. Basil | April 29th, 2009 at 12:08 am

    I think the points about getting more exercise earlier are definitely important. How about shutting off your computer or the television by a certain hour i.e. gradually having a certain cut off point? Also, waking up earlier every hour might be difficult. If you are used to waking up at 11:00 and you want to wake up at 9:30, it might be easier to wake up half an hour earlier each day. I will try that and see…

    Reply to this comment
  5. Slim0123 | August 3rd, 2009 at 10:08 pm

    About the Physical activity, all I can say is, if you do exercise to sleep, then you probably won’t get sleep by tiring yourself up before going to sleep, coz many people can’t sleep until their heart rate gets back to normal and the blood flow is at a level that was before they did the exercise, so exercise will merely prolong your waiting for the sleep…..

    Would also like to know what we call a person who goes to sleep but he knows that he is in sleep??
    .-= Slim0123´s last blog ..Happy Friendship Day =-.

    Reply to this comment
  6. Naveed | October 4th, 2009 at 5:16 am

    Question for you I have been working nights since about 8 months plus. On my days off I cannot fall asleep till 5 or 6 am the earliest. As this has become tougher I’ve decided to go back to the traditional working house of 9-5. I am just wondering how do go about falling asleep at a reasonable time like 12 or 1am. In the past it was very easy for me to sleep even as late as 2am and I had no problems waking up for work and getting through the day. One think I notice is I do eat a decent amount of carbs & I have been doing some late night walking on my days off usually to burn off some of the late night food. Guess they contribute to staying awake. It seems pretty tough to change sleeping habits that are more than 8 months old now, any help you can offer would be great. Thanks

    Reply to this comment
    • Avani Mehta | October 9th, 2009 at 11:17 pm

      Naveed, I have read that exercise wakes some people up. Can’t confrm this. Although light walks should not be a problem. Have you tried the basics – having a nightly routine, waking up same time no matter what, avoiding caffeine or anything that’s mentally stimulating, eliminating all kinds of distractions/noises/light etc.

      Two things that have been working well for me are meditation and audio music which help you relax and sleep. Even if sleep takes time, since both of these relax body and mind completely, it’s almost equivalent to sleeping.

      Reply to this comment
  7. Mike | October 13th, 2009 at 8:08 pm

    I have tried absolutely everything but nothing seems to work. Im up every morning at 7:00, I eat breakfast and then im off to class, dead tired, as I only get about 2-4 ours of sleep. 13:00 I have lunch, 16:00 I workout for about 2hrs everyday, at this point I seem to have energy even though I havnt slept since the morning 18:30 I have supper. There after I become dead tired again from about 20:00, and if I go to bed at this point (usually between 20:00 and 21:00) I sleep no later than 22:00, and when i awaken i feel fully recharged (this seems to be my physical aswell as mental peak of the day)even if i dont sleep at that time, i get recharged by 22:00 anyway. From this point I lie in bed until 4:00-5:00, constantly trying to sleep, but never seem to succeed. This has been going on for quite some time now. Im not stressed in anyway, nothing is bothering me, infact, this has probably been the best year of my life. I dont smoke, dont use drugs, dont drink much. All that is an issue for me is the fact that im a “zombie” by day. No matter how tired i get though, my sleeping duration seems to stay the same +-3hrs a day…and then i have that sudden burst of energy in the night…cant quite explain it and i cant change it eithe…

    Reply to this comment
  8. David | March 12th, 2010 at 4:23 am

    I’m about to move from 6 years of night shift to a 9-5 shift for the first time. Any tips would be appriciated.

    Reply to this comment
  9. JanieM | March 26th, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    It is hard to change a sleep pattern. This is our DNA. but there are certainly things that you can do to improve sleep quality like what is recommended at American Sleep Association.

    Reply to this comment
  10. Patil | May 5th, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    hey Avani,
    ever since i got back from the usa my sleep schedule is on the fritz, for the past few days i will fall asleep by 6pm and get up by 3am, as you can see this isnt exactly very good for me, iv tried staying up till ten but the latest i got to was 9 and i still woke up at 3am what to do?

    Reply to this comment

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