How to Reset Your Sleep Cycle

if you ‘ve chronic insomnia, you’ve likely been working with yr dr or a sleep speshist on wys'2 get + quality sleep. but sometimes, life can thwart the best-laid sleep plans. travel, a newborn baby, shift work, nother disruptions can get inna way of yr insomnia-busting habits.

starting from behind

interruptions to sleep schedules can be hard on any-1. but when you ‘ve chronic insomnia, you’re already behind the curve.

“you don’t ‘ve the same sleep reserves built up,” says tracy chisholm, ψ-d, a behavioral sleep med ψ-chologist atta portland va med center. “you’re likely to ‘ve an even harder time recovering from additional sleep disruptions cause you were already struggling to operate on ≤ a full tank.”

you’re also + likely to dwell onna sleep you’re losing, which can trigger a neg feedback loop. “iow, you worry bout it +,” says chisholm. “and guess wha’ definitely does not help improve yr sleep? worry. this can become a vicious cycle.”

preparing for disruptions

there are practical steps you can take to help prevent or cope with sleep loss in situations tha're out of yr control. you can also try adjusting yr Ψset.

“many times, pplz go into scenarios like travel assuming they’ll ‘ve difficulties with their sleep, but sometimes a change in environment can actually help you sleep better,” says ina djonlagic, md, a neurologist and sleep med speshist at beth israel deaconess med center.

bottom line: don’t expect the worst, but practice good habits to prepare in case things go awry.

here’s how t'get back on track when certain situations mess with yr sleep schedule.

travel and time changes

≠ time zones, strange beds in strange rooms, environments that aren’t comfortable — there are a host of ways travel can keep you from gettin yr zzzs. try these tips b4 yr trip:

head off jet lag. sloly adjust yr sleep schedule at home b4 you cutout.

“bout a week or two b4 you dept, start shifting yr bedtime and wake time in lil increments, to + closely match yr destination time zone,” says chisholm.

if you’re goin somewhere very far away, w8 til you get there and then start by folloing local mealtimes and sleep times, says chisholm. go to bed when nite comes, and get up when it’s lite.

try temporary aids. some pplz find lo-dose melatonin or timed exposure to lite to be helpful when they travel. “correctly timing these interventions is key for effectiveness,” chisholm says. “consult witha sleep speshist if you’re interested in either of these approaches.”

living witha newborn baby. babies spare no one from sleep disruption. you’re atta mercy of yr newborn’s sleep-wake cycle, which won’t be the same as yrs. “babies ‘ve much shorter sleep cycles than adults — 50 to 60 minutes, as opposed to our 90- to 110-minute cycles,” says chisholm. babies also nd'2 eat every 2 to 3 hrs.

the key is t'get good sleep when you can and know things will gradually get better. you can try to:

  • sleep when yr baby sleeps.
  • build up breast milk reserves by pumping tween feedings, and ask a ptner, friend, or family member to take over feedings when you sleep.

shift work

the term “shift work” can include evening, graveyard, or early morning shifts, swell as fixed or rotating schedules. rotating schedules that change from one dy to the nxt tend to be the worst for sleep. flip-flopping yr dys and nites can take a toll on yr health.

“unregul8d schedules are so hard that my best advice is to try to see if you can work a ≠ schedule that better fits healthy sleep patterns,” says djonlagic. if that’s just not possible, you can try to:

  • keep the same bedtime, wake time, and mealtimes every dy of the week, even on yr dys off. this helps keep yr internal clock set round yr work schedule.
  • allo yrself enough time to wind down after work b4 trying to fall asleep. don’t just come home and crash.
  • use ear plugs or white noise to help you fall asleep and stay asleep without interruption if you sleep during the dy. you can also wear an eye mask and use blackout curtains.
  • stay ahead of yr brain. “if yr commute home happens as the sun is rising, ponder wearing blue lite-blocking glasses so yr brain doesn’t think that you’re bout to start a whole new dy,” says chisholm.


sufferation turns on yr fite-or-flite response, which isn’t restful at all. in fact, it prevents sleep.

“from yr body’s perspective, it’s like you’re trying to sleep while a saber-toothed tiger is lurking rite outside yr cave,” says chisholm. she recommends these tips:

  • create a relaxing sleep routine that you follo every nite. make sure the final steps in this routine involve a non-stimulating activity that you enjoy. “i often recommend those with insomnia read, listen to audiobooks or calming , or practice relaxation tek knicks,” says chisholm.
  • avoid watching the news or discussing intense topics rite b4 bed. doin’ those things can keep yr Ψ and body from feeling relaxed.
  • exercise regularly, but make sure you finish at least a few hrs b4 bedtime.
  • if you ‘ve a lot on yr Ψ, write it down, at least an hr or so b4 bed, to help yr brain “let it go” js'4 the rest of the nite. you can always come back to yr notes inna morning.
  • ponder seeking support from family, friends, or professionals to help you manage sufferation.

“the most primordial thing to keep in Ψ s'dat if you already ‘ve chronic insomnia, don’t w8 t'get treatment — espeshly if you anticipate even + sleep disruptions,” says chisholm. “addressing chronic insomnia 1st cannelp you better cope when these common sleep disruptors occur.”

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