How To Fix Your Sleep Schedule

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Do you go to bed and get up at a similar time most days, or does your sleep schedule vary wildly from one night to the next?

If you have responsibilities such as child care or you have to do shift work, it can be difficult to keep to a consistent sleep routine. And let’s face it, life would be a little boring if we never had a good Saturday night out!

If you’re not the world’s best sleeper though, it can be helpful to stick to a regular sleep pattern as much as possible. Even when you’re aware of that concept, it might seem easier said than done though.

In this article, I’ll share two specific methods for adjusting your sleep schedule to the times you’d like. But first, let’s take a look at some important daily habits that can influence the likelihood that your sleep schedule works.

The following tips all form a part of good sleep hygiene. I recommend considering these steps alongside the sleep schedule adjusting methods coming up below. You might even find that they are all you need to improve your sleep.

Spend some time in natural light every day

To help keep your sleep cycle running smoothly, aim for daily exposure to natural light, especially in the morning. Sunlight helps synchronize your internal body clock with the natural light-dark cycle.

Research has shown that when exposed to natural light only, and no artificial lights, the internal body clock naturally follows the cycle of sunset and sunrise.

If you can, try to get outdoors for some early morning light. As part of my own daily routine, I go for a walk in a nearby park every morning that I’m able to, even if it’s just a short one due to other commitments.

Dim the lights and screens in the evening

I know it’s not always easy to disconnect from your phone, tablet, computer, or television. But a growing body of research points to media use contributing to an increase in how long it takes to fall asleep, particularly among children.

If you struggle to put your favourite device aside, perhaps try an experiment for just one week to see what happens if you turn them off for an hour before going to bed. You might be surprised to see your sleep schedule is easier to stick to.

On a personal level, I’ve noticed that I tend to fall asleep easier when I read a book in bed rather than use my phone. I certainly turn the light out sooner than when I get lost in the online world.

Also have a think about the lighting in your home. Use a warm lamp or two in the living room rather than intense downlights before going to bed to soften the lighting and prepare your mind for sleep.

Have a relaxing bedtime routine

If you repeat the same bedtime routine each night, your brain will hopefully start to associate the routine with the idea that sleep is coming up next. This is the time to do a relaxing activity or two instead of having more screen time.

keep daytime naps short

A daytime nap might be helpful for some people if they need to recharge their batteries, or in certain cases such as elite sports people. But long naps (more than 30 minutes) or naps late in the evening might be disruptive to the main sleep event.

Reduce your caffeine and alcohol intake

Many people will find that caffeine or alcohol disrupts their sleep. It’s best to quit or reduce your intake of both, especially in the evening.

Do some exercise

Physical exercise is good for sleep, and is also a good excuse to get outside for some fresh air, either to do the exercise or to travel to a place to do sports. Even going for a walk during the daylight hours can be beneficial as you’ll also be helping your circadian rhythm with the light.

Make your bedroom right for sleep

Cool, dark, and quiet will work well for many people. Make sure you have a comfortable bed and bedding. Try not to spend lots of time in the bed or bedroom in the evening if you have access to other rooms in the house to relax. Only go to bed when it’s time to sleep or read quietly in bed.

Talk to your doctor

This isn’t a daily habit like the previous tips, but important to mention. If the quality of your sleep is affecting your daily life or responsibilities, or causing you distress, talk to your doctor about it. If they can’t help directly, they can refer you to a sleep specialist if they think it’s necessary.

The key concept is to set your alarm for the same time every day, and try to actually get out of bed at a regular time too. It’s hard to control exactly when you fall asleep, but controlling when you wake up is more achievable.

First of all, you need to decide what your ideal sleep schedule looks like. Let’s imagine the following example schedule:

  • Go to bed at 10 p.m. and read for 30 minutes (if you enjoy reading).
  • Turn the lights off at 10:30 p.m. and fall asleep soon after.
  • Wake up at 7 a.m. and get up as soon as possible.

The time you go to bed, the length of time you read for, and the time you set the alarm can all be controlled. The unpredictable part is actually falling asleep.

The trick is to try and be consistent in the time you wake up – the element you can control with a good alarm clock. The hope is that eventually you’ll also start falling asleep at a more regular time to match the cycle your wake time is pushing for.

If your current sleep pattern is far from ideal, however, it might be better to work towards it slowly. Try to adjust your timings by 15 to 30 minutes per night over a week or two until you hit your target schedule.

The most important point is that you make an effort to wake up at the same time as often as possible. One exception is that if you have a terrible night’s sleep, you might need to catch up if possible rather than struggling through the day with no energy.

Don’t lie awake in bed getting stressed

It’s possible that you just won’t feel particularly sleepy when it’s your scheduled bedtime sometimes.

So what do you do if this happens? There are four different methods you can try, and you may need to experiment to see which works best for you.

1. Only go to bed when you feel sleepy

If you don’t like reading in bed, it might be best to only get into bed when you’re definitely feeling sleepy. Otherwise, you might become frustrated by all the time lying awake in bed.

2. Read until you do feel sleepy

Even if your schedule says 30 minutes of reading, it’s fine to continue until you feel sleepy enough to drift off.

3. Do some relaxation exercises

Doing relaxation exercises in bed can help calm your mind and body. It also helps by distracting your brain from any worries or stressful thoughts.

4. Get out of bed if you don’t fall asleep

It’s normal not to fall asleep the second your head hits the pillow. If you’re still wide awake after 20 minutes, however, it might be better to get up and do something relaxing in another room for a short while or read in bed for a bit longer.

The important point is to avoid lying awake for ages, worrying about falling asleep or how tired you’ll be tomorrow. If you have to, you can go back a step and repeat part of your relaxing bedtime routine if you have one.

When I was younger, I used to have a habit of lying in bed worrying about not falling asleep, which then kept me up even longer. It was only when I allowed myself to get up and try again that I could finally learn to relax, knowing that I wasn’t necessarily ‘trapped’ in bed, and had the choice to do something about it.

Sleep restriction therapy is about maximizing the amount of time you spend in bed asleep compared to how much time you lie awake for. It has been found in various research studies, such as a 2015 study and a 2023 study, to be an effective brief treatment for some adults with insomnia.

It can be undertaken during Cognitive Behavioural Therapy under the guidance of a therapist, but that 2023 study involved nurses delivering the program. I’ll describe the basic steps, but I recommend discussing it with your doctor and doing more research into how it works.

Some people may find it difficult to do, and it isn’t for everyone. So even though I’ll outline the steps I took when I tried it myself, I do recommend getting professional advice.

Step 1: Keep a sleep diary

First of all, you need to keep a sleep diary for several weeks. In your diary record the following:

  • The total hours you’re physically in bed for each night (not including reading time).
  • The total hours you think you were actually asleep, as best you can work out. It can be helpful to use a sleep tracker for this part.

After two to three weeks, use the diary to calculate the average amount of time you’re actually asleep each night.

Step 2: Only be in bed for the time you usually sleep for

The next step involves only being in bed for the amount of time you’re sleeping for – even if it’s not the amount of time you’d like to sleep for (that comes in step four).

Let’s imagine that you slept for six hours per night on average during the two weeks. Perhaps you were physically lying in bed for 7.5 hours though, spending 1.5 frustrating hours trying to fall asleep.

So now you know you sleep for six hours, you need to decide on a regular time to wake up and work backward from there.

Let’s say that you want to wake up every day at 8 a.m. to get ready for work. Six hours before that time means that your bedtime is going to be 2 a.m. initially.

You should aim to be asleep for 90% of that time in bed. So if you go to bed at 2 a.m. and fall asleep by 2:15 a.m., you’re doing well.

In reality, it might take a few days to adjust to this time, and that’s quite normal. Remember this is just the start – even though it might seem counterproductive to intentionally stay up later, you will eventually be able to go to bed earlier.

Step 3: Add 15 minutes to your time in bed

When you’re able to sleep for 90% of your time in bed successfully for two days in a row, you can add 15 minutes more to the time you’re in bed. Using the example from above again, the next night you would be in bed at 1:45 a.m. instead of 2 a.m.

You might find it takes a few days to achieve that 90% sleep time again, and that’s fine. Just keep trying and your body should slowly adjust to the schedule.

Step 4: Gradually work towards your desired amount of sleep

You should have in your mind a target amount of sleep that you feel you need to feel refreshed and at your best.

That might be eight hours, for example, meaning that the six hours you’ve been sleeping for on average clearly isn’t enough. Now you can slowly start working up to that time.

Each time you start to fall asleep easily with the new 15 minutes increase, you can add another 15 minutes the next night. Eventually, you’ll add another 15 minutes enough times to reach your target amount of sleep.

Some people may find they only need to add 15 minutes a couple of times to reach their target amount of sleep. Others who have severe insomnia may find they need many steps. It all depends on how many hours you need, and how many you’re currently getting.

When you do sleep restriction therapy, try to avoid napping in the daytime if possible. Don’t have lie-ins either, even when you can’t sleep at night during the process.

Protect your sleep schedule

Once you’ve decided on your new regular sleep pattern, it’s also important to see it as a priority in your life.

Ideally, your bedtime won’t just be something you hope happens at the end of the day. Try your best to stick to the sleep schedule and don’t allow other things to encroach on it.

Of course, there may be exceptions such as childcare responsibilities or health needs. However, there are activities that eat into your sleep time that you could choose to change. For example:

  • If you’re watching a film or series, pause it and finish it tomorrow.
  • If you’re catching up on some work, put it aside before the late evening. Finish it off in the morning.
  • If playing video games, pause when you can. Don’t start any games you’re locked into and take hours to complete.

Understandably, social activities are also important to our overall well-being. But perhaps you could try to limit how often social events interrupt your schedule whilst you’re trying to get it back in line. Is one more beer really worth an hour less sleep?

Ask family or friends to be understanding

If you live alone, developing a good sleep schedule and sticking to it is mostly under your control. If you live with family or friends, it’s sometimes harder to implement.

Talk to your family or friends to let them know this is something you need to do to overcome your sleep problems. Ask for their understanding and support.

Is your partner keeping you awake?

Sometimes, what stops you from falling asleep may seem out of your control. Perhaps it’s your partner that unintentionally disturbs your sleep.

There are many ways a partner can disturb your sleep: their temperature, snoring, moving a lot, sleep talking, hugging you in an uncomfortable way, taking up too much space, to name just a few.

They might not even be aware of how much of an effect they’re having. If snoring doesn’t keep them awake, why would they need to do something about it?

Talk to your partner openly and honestly about any issues affecting your sleep – preferably at a suitable time in the day rather than at 3 a.m. in a grumpy half asleep mood.

You can phrase it in a positive way to make them feel they can help you and that you’re working on it together. This is much better than just accusing them of being the main reason you can’t fall asleep at night.

They may also need to be willing to talk to a medical professional or try self-help. If they snore loudly, for example, they should consult their doctor to rule out sleep apnea.

Finally, you might even like to consider sleeping in separate beds. A surprisingly large number of couples do this, and it can be very beneficial for your sleep. If that idea sounds awful, other steps worth considering are to have two single duvets instead of a shared large one, or individual beds side by side.

My partner and I love to visit Sweden, and always remark on how well we sleep there. It may be because we’re on holiday, but I also think it’s because we always stay in a place with two beds and two duvets side by side.

Do you wake up in the middle of the night?

Many people fall asleep easily enough, but wake up in the middle of the night and can’t fall asleep again. It can be quite upsetting to be awake for long periods of time at 3 a.m. Time seems to go so very slowly at that hour.

I’ve had this problem many times over the years, and there are three things that have most helped me that I recommend doing:

  • Don’t let it stress you out. Tell yourself that you will fall asleep again eventually, and that you’ll be fine the next day. Some positive thinking goes a long way in combatting the worry that tomorrow will be a disaster.
  • Focus on how cozy and relaxing it feels to be in bed. Take the time to simply enjoy the feeling of being in your little cocoon. If you can’t sleep, relax instead.
  • If it goes on for too long, get up for a bit and do something relaxing. If I’m still awake after 20-30 minutes, I like to make a herbal tea and read a book for a bit. That usually does the trick and I’ll fall asleep easier again once I’m ready.

Your thoughts

What’s your sleep schedule like at the moment? Which ideas in this article do you think would be most useful? Let me know in the comments.


  1. Hey!

    Do you have any tips for people who struggle to wake up and sleep a lot (more than 11 hours).
    I sometimes sleep until 12-13pm even if I fall asleep at 12am. And even though I slept so much I would still feel sleepy and tired, and with no motivation whatsoever.

    What should I do to start a healthy sleeping routine?

    • Hi Violeta
      There could be a few explanations for this, but I think it would be a good course of action to speak to your doctor about your lengthy sleeps.

  2. Hello,
    I’m trying to understand what to do. I’ll fall asleep at around 9:30 or 10pm and every single night I wake up between 1am and 1:15am and it takes me forever to go back to sleep, no matter what I do it feels hopeless. Do you have any suggestions as to what I should do?

    • Hi Tyira
      Do you know how much sleep you need to feel good? Do you get that much during the whole night, adding up either side of your waking in the night?
      Personally, if I wake up and can’t sleep, I don’t like to lie there for ages. I often get up and have a cup of decaf tea, or read a book for a while, then try to fall asleep a bit later.
      I also find I wake up less often in the night if I’m really tired when I go to bed, and don’t go to bed too early. For me, that means doing exercise, work, keeping to a good sleep schedule, and being mindful of what and when I eat and drink. Sleep hygiene basically!

  3. My sleep pattern has been all over the place for months now. Some days I would be sleeping from 4am to 6pm, but now I have been sleeping from 7am to 5:30 maybe 6pm, some days even 6:30pm. I have been having mental health problems for months now because I have autism and I really don’t know how to end these sleep problems I have been having over these last months. I fear that these sleep issues I have been having are only going to get worse and worse till there is a time where I am sleeping till 9pm maybe even 10pm and that could lead to devastating problems for me and I am only 19 what should I do?

    • Hi David
      Thanks for sharing your story. Have you spoken to your doctor about this? Perhaps they can refer you to a sleep specialist to help you tackle your sleep problems and also someone to help with the mental health problems you feel you’ve been having recently.
      Otherwise, it might be a case of deciding to put all your effort into changing your sleep pattern. I’d start with deciding on the sleep pattern you want – a specific wake up time, and then a specific window of time to be in bed and be trying to fall asleep. Once you decide on that, you at least have a specific goal to try to stick to. Alongside that, all the usual good sleep hygiene/habits will apply to you just as anyone else – it just depends how much you’re willing to try to do for your sleep. My feeling is that the more you put into practice, the better. It’s not a case of just ‘try some meditation’ and see if that helps, because it might not help much if you still do lots of other things that aren’t great for sleep. My experience has been that the best way to improve your sleep is to really decide you’re going to give it the attention it needs, and keep in mind that many things you do during the whole day can ultimately affect your sleep.

    • You’re not alone. I’m 26 dealing with the same thing. I find lots of exercise helps and sometimes if I don’t sleep till 4 am, Ill wake up at 6 or 7 even if I haven’t slept and just go a whole 2 days with no sleep, then finally be tired enough to go to bed. Also avoid sugar or caffeine, drink plenty of water and herbal teas, and i fine fasting for a day helps me if I’ve been overeating and not sleeping. I will go a whole 24 hours just drinking glass bottled spring water then wake up the next day and have nothing but fresh fruit to break my fast.

  4. Hi,
    My sleep routine is all over the place at the moment. I recently went through IVF and the medication can cause insomnia as my hormones were all over the place with the added estrogen & progesterone. I am pregnant now near 11 weeks. I continued the medication until 9 weeks pregnant. I am now 2 weeks off the medication. I can’t get asleep until 6/7 am sometimes later. And I wake at 11am / 12pm. This has been ongoing since last week in jan when I started the meds. I am at a real low and I don’t know what to do I’m exhausted all the time ( I can’t even Nap) my sleep has never been like this. I spoke to my doctor twice who brushed it off as it’s hormones. I’m afraid I will be stuck this way! It’s my first pregnancy and can’t seem to enjoy it 😢 any suggestions would be appreciated. I have started the last 2 days setting my alarm for 10am no matter how much sleep I get to see if this works.

    • Hi Megs
      Sorry to hear you’ve been having such a tough time with your sleep. Unfortunately, I don’t have any expertise in the area of pregnancy and sleep, so don’t feel qualified to offer any specific advice for your case. All I would say is if your doctor has brushed it off without any advice that you found helpful, perhaps seeing a second opinion might be a good step. I’d also stay connected with other people in a similar situation to you, look for support groups or social media groups, and see if you can get helpful ideas from others who have been there before.

  5. I lost out to sleepless nights for the most part of my life. Ever since I hit puberty, life has been a living nightmare. It’s reduced me to poverty and a never-ending vicious circle of sleepless nights.
    If I try to do a daily routine as anyone would I wouldn’t last the day unless I napped for several hours. So back to sleepless nights again.
    Be safe!
    All the best

  6. Hi Ethan…
    Firstly I have a health anxiety issue so a minor defect in my body takes me on an endless ride with anxiety.
    From last Aug 2020 I was facing some sort of anxiety issues which has disturbed my sleep pattern…….now the thing is that I am normal at times but don’t fall asleep for hrs. 4-5 months back this use to happen once or twice in months but now this is happening every week. A day or two becomes a sleep-deprived day for me.
    At times I drift off within no time but some days of the week I remain wide awake till 4 or hell 6 am and that particular day go for a toss.
    I am working from home so bcoz of this it’s been affecting my productivity a lot.
    Any suggestions from you will be of great help.

    • Hi Gaurav
      Thanks for sharing your experience. I think many people have been having difficulty with their sleep in the last year due to the pandemic. Depending on where you are in the world, and your personal circumstances, this will vary greatly of course. But my point is you’re not alone in having more anxiety and more sleep problems.
      The thing is, what to do about it?
      I think if you can identify anxiety as an issue in your life in general, then that at least opens up options for coping with anxiety on a general level, not just related to sleep. I would be investigating self-help options, and potentially professional help if you can access it. Again, this will depend on your situation.
      On a personal level, I also have a tendency towards anxiety. What helps me is a morning yoga session, which I do by following a Youtuber. Going for long walks helps. Drinking less alcohol. Talking to family and friends. None of these I do specifically to help my sleep, but because I know they are good for me. They just have the secondary effect of improving my sleep because they help reduce my stress and anxiety levels.
      I know yoga or walks isn’t for everyone. But I do believe there is something for everyone – you just have to do a little research, or think back to times when you did things that made you feel better, or do more of the things you know help.
      Of course, there are many other points I could raise. But in the short time I have for each comment response, this struck me as the most useful point I could make right now.

  7. Hi,

    I am struggling with sleep, and I’ve even tried taking melatonin, and sleeping pills because it’s gotten so bad, whenever I’m feeling sleepy I’ll go lay down and then I’ll be wide awake in bed from 8-9am and then I finally start slowly falling asleep and end up waking up at like 3-4pm bc of the lost sleep I had from the night before… this is really bothering and has been going on for months, I don’t know why I can’t sleep, I want to be able to sleep without any issues but it’s not working for me.

  8. Hi Ethan,

    I have no trouble falling asleep at like 10/ 11 pm but whenever I do that I was up at 1 am and will be awake probably till 6am. But if I go asleep at 3 am I will sleep all the way through till 12pm.

    • Hi Lily
      Do you know if anything specific wakes you up – like the need for the bathroom, thirst, pain, noise?

  9. Hi Ethan, I work part time and was on day shift from 7 am to 2 pm for a while, and was falling asleep around 10. Now I switched my shift to 2 pm to 8 pm, and I find myself falling asleep around midnight, or 1 am. Could the changing of the shifts have something to do with my sleep pattern? I work in Seafood at Price Chopper.

    • Hi Barb
      I would imagine it’s connected. By the time you get home, you probably don’t have as much time to do what you’d normally do in the evening, hence the later bed time.

  10. I have been sleeping about 5.5 to 6 hours each night but I am always waking up between 3:45-4:15am and then I can’t fall back to sleep. It’s very frustrating to start my day that early because everyone else is asleep and I have to be super quiet. Plus, I still feel tired and would like to get more sleep. What can I do to lengthen my sleep and wake up later or at the very least, shift my 6 hours so I’m waking up at 5 am? I have tried going to sleep earlier and later and neither seem to do much (although I only try it for a few days). I do try and get outside as much as possible so I am exposed to sunlight throughout the day. Thanks! Kim

  11. Hey Ethan, thanks a lot for this!

    Ever since the pandemic hit I’ve been having major sleep problems that started out in late April. I’ve always been a light sleeper but at the time things just turned ugly.

    After a few rounds of sleepless nights and grumpy days I turned to OTC sleeping pills to help me fall asleep. They helped, but surprisingly no matter what time I slept I’d still wake around the same time early every morning which made me feel exhausted the rest of the day because I couldn’t for example nap or anything without them later.

    Getting frustrated with the whole thing I decided to cut out the sleeping pills and use melatonin and smoking marijuana instead which didn’t do much but give me paranoia and anxiety and absolutely did not help, so I went back to the pills.

    Now I’m back to square one. The pills put me to sleep but I never feel like I got a good night’s sleep neither do I sleep long enough for that even to be true.

    I’m having constant migraines and I’m feeling mentally weaker.

    May I add that I also tried working out, going for long walks and cutting out caffeine but none of these things helped me to fall sleep.

    Please please help

    • Hi Kevin
      Thanks for your comment. Sorry to hear things have been difficult. I can only imagine the pandemic has been incredibly disruptive for many people’s sleep – I’ve been there myself too, especially back in march when it seemed particularly worrying and scary as it was still such as unknown, and our lives were turned upside down by the lockdown.
      For me personally, it’s all about sticking to a really strict bedtime schedule. My alarm goes off the same time every day of the week, including the weekend, and I get up without any snoozing. Having that strict and consistent start to the day really helps keep the rest of the day in order I find.
      Are you working at the moment? I know you mention exercise, but do you work or study? For me, it’s good to tire yourself out both mentally and physically. If you’re not working or studying, finding something to occupy your mind throughout the day could also be a good step to take.
      As for the sleep aids, it sounds like they aren’t working well for you. Having migraines etc isn’t a good side effect, and one I wouldn’t tolerate. It may be that spending some more time looking into other sleep hygiene techniques could benefit you – it seems like you already made a start with the walks and caffeine, but perhaps there are more techniques you haven’t quite got in place.

  12. Hi Ethan,

    I was on half a tablet of Ambien for about two years. The medicine stopped working like it used to back in June. Since then it’s been tough to fall asleep bc my problem is my mind is racing when I’m trying to sleep. It is just random thoughts. I could be sleepy around 10-11pm but then get a sudden boost of energy. My body can feel tired but my mind is up. I’ve tried a few sleep aids with melatonin and I get nightmares and my heart feels weird which leads to anxiety so I stopped that. I’ve tried essential oils good for sleep and that doesn’t always work. I recently bought a device called Dodow for sleep and that’s not working either. Typically each day my bedtime is anywhere from 5 am-6am everyday. I’ll wake up anywhere from 12:30-3pm. I’m a stay at home mom and my husband works from home so he wants me to get rest. But I’m so tired of this. Any suggestions? Thanks

    • Hi Emely
      Thanks for your comment. From what you described, I’m assuming that the current sleep schedule you have means you’re not able to take care of the kids until the afternoon and your husband is doing it? Or are they old enough to get themselves up and ready in the morning? I think in your case, I’d be thinking about setting the alarm for the time you want to get up and using that as a base for your other timings. Do you physically go to bed at that time, or is that just when you fall asleep? If it’s the former, what’s stopping you from going to bed the other side of midnight?

  13. Hi Ethan!

    My normal sleeping time before the covid pandemic was 2:00 am to 9:00 am. But since the pandemic, my sleep cycle has been a mess. Recently, I was not able to sleep for two straight days but I feel sleepy. After trying some meditation techniques, I was able to sleep at 6:00 a.m until 2:00 pm today. I want to have a normal wake up time of 8:00 am to become productive. My question is what time should I try to sleep again from 2:00 pm that I woke up today in order to go back to a normal sleep cycle? Appreciate your help.

    • Hi Judith
      Thanks for your question. I totally understand – the pandemic also affected my sleep so I know how difficult it can be to maintain a normal sleep schedule when life changes so dramatically. For me, the key really has been to just ‘pretend’ life is normal and keep to a normal schedule as I had before. I’m strict about my wake up times, which has always been the thing that helps me most. So to answer your question, I’d be tempted to set that alarm for the morning and sleep either when you’re sleepy and make sure you get up when the alarm goes, or to go to bed at the old time of 2 a.m. from now on until you start to get it back in order. The choice is yours really. But I would really emphasise the importance of getting up at the same time every day.

  14. I used to sleep early, around 11 pm, and wake up early in the morning. But recently I had to keep myself awake till 3 am or 4 am and now I can’t sleep at night. I sleep only after 5 am.

    I want to get a normal life again. Help!!

    • Hi Yuvraj
      Why did you have to keep yourself awake? Has that reason stopped now? If so, you should be able to readjust over a few nights. Try to get up at the time you used to, and hopefully your time of falling asleep will also change back.

  15. When I go to sleep I start thinking and then those thoughts didn’t let me sleep. I tried many times to avoid and some times I succeeded, but now this habit is increasing. I don’t know how but it’s out of my control. Any advice for me?

    • Hi Ali

      This is a very common problem, and one I’ve had myself! For me, what works is tiring myself out physically and mentally during the day, and then doing relaxation exercises at night if I can’t turn my brain off and the excessive thinking starts.
      I highly recommend checking out my article about mindfulness for a possible avenue to explore.

  16. Hello Sir,

    My problem is I fell asleep at 10pm then awake at 1am or 2am because I need to pee but I can’t go back to sleep then. I experienced this situation for almost 2 weeks. What should I do to make a good sleep?

    Thank you and God bless.

    • Hi Shiela
      Personally, I try to drink less liquid in the couple of hours before bedtime otherwise I have the same problem! I’m not sure if that would help in your case, but it might be worth trying. Has anything in your diet or lifestyle changed in the last few weeks that you think could be causing it?

  17. I went to bed at 2am, but I woke up at 4pm with no memory of turning off my alarm. Is there a reason for this?

    • Hi James
      Maybe you just really, really needed the extra sleep! I wouldn’t worry personally unless things like this happen frequently. People do sometimes do things while still half asleep and not remember.

  18. Soooo ever since lockdown because of the Coronavirus I haven’t been sleeping properly like I’ve been falling asleep at like 4am most night and waking up at 3pm but tonight it is 6am and I’m still wide awake how can I sort this out?

    • Hi Bethany
      Thanks for your comment. I can completely understand. I’m also finding it harder to stick to a good sleep pattern because of the Coronavirus. We are living in a 1 bedroom apartment in New York, and definitely wishing we had a garden or more rooms to wander around in!

      Fortunately, I’m still able to work from home, and that has made me realize that having a routine helps a lot. I’ve noticed that my sleep is worse at the weekend when all of a sudden there are two days to fill with activities that take place almost entirely within a handful of walls. And then there is the stress and worry of course, which doesn’t help.

      Now, I have to be careful what advice I give at the moment because I’m not a doctor. Websites are being strongly encouraged not to give out medical advice about the coronavirus if it hasn’t been written by medical experts.

      So all I can do is share what I am personally doing to try to keep my sleep in line. These are the things I am trying to do most, and think they help:

      1. I try not to watch or read the news too much, so as to keep my stress levels down. I check it a couple of times a day to see what is happening, but don’t have the TV news channels on constantly for example.

      2. I try to keep to a routine. I get up at the same time most mornings if I can. The night is trickier as I’m often just not that tired because I’m indoors all day. I do try not to go to bed too late though. And point 3 tries to address that.

      3. I have a daily indoor exercise routine I do around 5 or 6 pm. I know what works for me, but if you’re not used to indoor exercise, there are tons of people publishing great videos on Youtube with suggestions of what you can do indoors to keep fit, burn some energy and reduce the stress levels hopefully.

      4. I have my morning light yoga and nightly meditation routine. These really help me personally. They bring a moment of calm, and allow me to step back from my emotions and stress and worries about COVID-19. Admittedly, sometimes I totally forget to do much meditating and my mind wonders about things like how long it will be before I go back to England to see my family, and when will this all be over? You know, the same kind of worries many people have right now. But I try my best to take some time out to still my mind at night. And this, for me, is important for both my overall mental health and ideally my sleep too as it helps to take a step back from the day’s anxiety before getting into bed.

      5. I’m trying hard to watch what I eat and drink. Last week I realized I was suddenly enjoying chocolate after dinner again, which is something I know can affect my sleep. Same for alcohol, caffeine, junk food, etc. Basically, I’m trying to resist the temptation to either entertain myself and deal with boredom with food and drink, or lean on it for comfort. I’m still going to enjoy the little pleasures without feeling guilty. But I try to be reasonable about how much of each I allow myself.

      6. Every day I call at least one family or friend. Being in touch with people I love makes me feel a little less sad. And once again, trying to stay on top of my mental health and negative emotions will ultimately help me to sleep better at night, as that’s usually the time when worries and negative thinking surface.

      Those are some of the main things that help me. Just to be clear again, this is a personal list, and not medical advice. Nonetheless, I hope they are useful ideas to think about.

      Stay safe

      • Hi Ethan, your advice is helpful for me also. I have got into a bad habit during Covid.. As I am retired now , the mornings are not calling me to get out of bed. No motivation. I tend to doze on and off, read etc. setting an alarm is good, but as I have low motivation, it’s easy to ignore.. will get through this I’m sure.. thank you

        • Hi Diane
          I’m glad the advice was useful. It’s a difficult time for everyone. Have you thought about putting something new into your morning that you enjoy, and helps motivate you to get up when the alarm rings? For me right now, it’s playtime with the dog, a really awesome cup of coffee and some fresh air. I think it’s nice to know you have something pleasant waiting for you to do when the alarm goes off. I thought I was conditioning my dog to wake up when the alarm goes off, but actually I think I’ve also conditioned myself to get excited about the new coffee maker and some fresh air!

    • Hi! Due to the wide spread of the virus schools are cancelled so we have online lessons. I pull all nighters for two days because I had a lot of work and had to submit it before 8am so I didn’t get sleep at all. Friday was the last day of school so from I decided to get some sleep in on Saturday but when I went to bed I couldn’t sleep at all. I was wide awake the whole night till 7:30am I went to bed at 3 and woke up at 5. I was extremely tired yet not sleepy and was panicking the whole time so I decided to go to my living room and have something because I have hungry. This has been going on for 4 days now. Even right now, where I live it’s 6:23am I haven’t slept the whole night. I am having breakfast and then I’ll head back to my room to try and sleep. Even when I fall asleep I end up waking up in a few hours like if I sleep at 8 I’ll wake up by 1. It’s crazy I have been crying so much my mom is so worried. I don’t know what to do.

      • Hi Elena
        Thanks for sharing your experience. I know now is a very difficult time for everyone, and sticking to a healthy pattern during the day and at night isn’t easy. I’ve seen posts from more than one sleep expert saying even they are struggling with their sleep right now! What kind of sleep pattern did you have before all this started, and what would your ideal pattern be now if you could make it happen?

  19. Yo! I tend to stay up pretty late in general but it has gotten really out of hand. For the past month, I haven’t been able to fall asleep until about 7AM but I need to wake up before noon. That’s not enough sleep at night. Taking a nap later makes me more awake but I can’t fall asleep until around 7AM even if I DONT take the nap. This cycle has left me exhausted and I’ve missed some classes as a result. HELP

    • Hi Reese
      Thanks for your comment. What time would you ideally like to go to sleep and wake up? Do you know what it is that keeps you awake until the morning? If you don’t wake up till late, it would make sense that your body isn’t tired until late. So to go to sleep earlier, you might need to set a strict wake up time first to see if that helps. Then you can use the tips in the article to try and get your schedule back on track.

  20. Insomnia is new for me. I used to be able to drop off in a few minutes…but recently I have had trouble going to sleep. At first it was just a day here and there. But the last few days have been worse. I added melatonin, but that didn’t really help me sleep it just made my body lethargic while my mind kept thinking. Now I think I am in that vicious cycle of focusing on not sleeping. last night I didn’t sleep at all. I am going to try zzzquil. Two questions 1) how many consecutive days is it ok to use, 2) at what point do I have to see a doctor?

    • Hi Hannah
      Thanks for your comment. Yes, worrying about sleep can in itself cause sleep problems, annoyingly. It can help to do simple breathing and relaxation exercises to keep your mind focussed elsewhere.
      You can read my review of zzzquil for my thoughts on that sleep aid. Personally, I wouldn’t take it for more than 2 weeks. And they often say that if you have sleep problems you can’t fix for 2+ weeks, speak to a doctor.

    • For years I was so tired after finally cleaning up after dinner that I would sit down to watch tv and fall asleep within an hour. After sleeping on the couch for a couple of hours I would wake up and go to bed. Often I was very tired and sleepy by 4 in the afternoon. After retiring and my husbands passing I find that I am not tired in the evening. I go to bed about 12AM, but often do not fall asleep until 2 to 4 AM and with nobody to wake me up I sleep through my alarm and wake up between 10 & 12.
      I hope to be able to rectify this by using your system. Thanks.

      • Hi Janet
        Thanks for your comment and for sharing your story. I think starting with a good alarm clock might help, as it’s the one factor we can often control reasonably well…as long as the alarm wakes us up1

  21. I work weekend nights. I am required to be at work at 4 PM. Normally I get off work about 4 AM. By the time I get home, it’s usually after five AM, it could be as late as 6 AM. All I do is sleep and work. How do I get myself out of this rut? When I am not working, I struggle to go to bed before five or 6 AM. I do not even get out of bed before 2 PM on my days off. When I do, I am very sleepy. One problem is my wife’s clock is going off at 6:45 in the morning for her to get up and get ready to go to work. If I do go to bed just after I get home from work, I get woke back up in an hour, so normally I don’t even go to bed until her alarm clock goes off.

    I should also state for the record that I am on a CPAP machine.
    Somethings Gotta Give….

    • Hi Charles
      Thanks for your comment. I can empathize with you on this one, having worked shifts in the past. It’s never easy, and not for everyone. Personally, I ended up stopping the shift work because it was too difficult for me to sleep well.
      There is lots of advice online for shift workers if you search for it – particularly on nursing websites, for example.
      One other possibility is to think about sleeping in separate bedrooms, if you have one available. That way you can block out light, use earplugs or whatever you need if noise keeps you awake, and shut yourself away in the hours you need to sleep.
      But at the end of the day, if you’re really struggling and can’t adapt to the shifts, and it’s greatly reducing your quality of life and happiness, it might be a case of looking for alternative work if you’re able to.

  22. Before reading your article, my sleep schedule was very terrible and I was very tired in the morning, I can’t focus my job so my boss scolded me. Now I am very happy, my problem has been solved by your method. I didn’t get up at midnight and slept till morning. I went to work very early and my boss complimented me :))). I will read more articles in your website. Thank you so much

    • Hi Layla
      Thanks for your comment and for sharing your experience. It’s always great to hear someone’s sleep improved after reading an article, so thank your for your feedback.
      I hope your sleep continues to be better and your work life easier.

  23. I am having serious insomnia due to anxiety. Now I get some sleep initially, them I’m jolted awake. That continues to happen all night. I’m exhausted and delirious during the day. My doctor told me to take an over-the-counter sleep aid. I’m sure that will help, but doesn’t it just mask the problem? Can I take these meds and practice sleep hygiene simultaneously? Will that help me quit the medications?

    • Hi Lauren
      Thanks for your comment. You can do both things if you like. I think it’s good for anyone taking sleeping pills to try to phase them out and control the sleep insomnia naturally if they can. But if you’re really struggling and need something to help you sleep from time to time, that’s what the sleep aids are for.

  24. Hi, My sleep time is also a mess. I recently spent days without sleeping and that made me a completely different person. I lost my ability to remember. Now im trying my best to sleep better. Will that fix my memory problems? thanks a lot

    • Hi Raul
      Thanks for your comment. Getting some good, restorative sleep again will very likely improve your memory if the lack of sleep was what led to the problem.

  25. I recently took a second job. My bedtime used to be at 10 PM, while I didn’t sleep through the night, (I wake up but fall back to sleep), I still got sleep. NOW I can’t get to sleep and I firmly believe it is because my bedtime routine is a mess. I am going to try, regardless of what time I get home, to make my bedtime 11:30 as I like to get at least 6 hours.
    This is the best information I have found regarding insomnia. Thank you

    • Hi Maggie
      Thanks for your comment and your kind words – it’s always good to know readers like the website. I think keeping a close eye on your sleep schedule is one of the best techniques for improving sleep, so hopefully your plan will work well.

  26. Sleep maintenance insomnia may be normal for some, but for me it’s detrimental. It makes me feel like I’ve been beaten. I can’t move or breathe, sometimes I lie there exhausted and breathless. It’s horrible. I just want to sleep striaght through. I feel best when I sleep all at once, not broken, or shortened. I end up sometimes not being able to even get up in the interim b/c I’m too sick and tired. I have chronic fatigue too. So for me sleep/rest is essential to feeling bad vs. feeling really bad.

    • Hi Layla
      Thanks for your comment. I know, it’s not an easy one to deal with. Have you spoken to your doctor about all this, and how you feel breathless at night and fatigued during the day? Those to me sounds like symptoms to get checked out.

  27. Hello,
    Thank you so much for your useful tips, these are very handy!

    However, I am getting married in 7 weeks. Recently I have had some trouble sleeping at night. I am assuming this down to me feeling stressed or anxious about the wedding. Are there any tips or techniques you could recommend to de-stress before going to bed?

    • Hi Aisha
      Thanks for your comment, it’s great to know you liked the tips. Congratulations first of all! I think this is a very common time to feel stressed and anxious, and yes there are plenty of techniques you can try. Did you see my article about relaxation techniques? There are some good methods in there, and also information about a more involved practice called mindfulness which I highly recommend.

  28. Idk if it will work. But I can’t sleep in the night cause I’m not tired but when it reaches 6am I start to get tired and sleepy. Can you help me?

    • Hi Alex
      Thanks for your comment. Have you thought about trying the sleep restriction therapy technique? It might feel a bit torturous at first, but in time could help you.

    • It sounds like DSPD, delayed sleep phase disorder/syndrome. Many people are like this I also feel sleepy very late, around 4 am is my natural bedtime, but with my insomnia, it’s delayed even more, to the point where sometimes I can’t even get to sleep until after 8 am, which is horrible. I end up sleeping the entire work day away & can’t make important phone calls, or handle important business. I miss sleeping from 4 am to 12 pm. That’s what I’d love to get back to.

      But maybe you should try to accommodate your natural sleep cycle. See if you sleep OK, just at a different time.

    • Oh &1 more thing, my BFF is a natural extreme night owl like me, her natural bedtime is around 6 am, that’s when she feels best, sleeping from 6 am – 2 pm. But now she’s on a day schedule. It took her years to be able to do it, she finds that in order to wake up rested, she needs to sleep longer, about 10 hours instead of only 8.

    • Hi Jen
      Thanks for your comment and compliment. Let me know if it helps you sleep better!

      • I’m having a sleep issue of not being able to sleep. Last night, for example, I lay awake for 6.5 hours trying to sleep. The next day I feel dead.

        Then there are times I get to sleep, but wake up then can’t get back to sleep till very late on.

        • Hi Ryan
          Thanks for your comment. Sorry to hear you’re having trouble with your sleep. I hope that the suggestions in this article can help you try to improve your sleep schedule.

  29. Awesome Article! My sleep schedule has been terrible for so long now. I will try and use your ideas and see if I can get back to how I used to sleep. Thanks!

    • Hi Abdul
      Thanks for your comment and I’m glad you found the article useful. I hope the techniques here help you get back on track. Stick with it, as it can be tough at first to get your sleep back in line. But it’s worth the perseverance in the end.

      • I work shifts that start at or around 4:00 pm and end at 12:30 am. Do you have any recommendations for when I should sleep? I don’t want to wake up too early, be awake all day, and then be exhausted during my work hours. I’ve heard it’s good to get natural sunlight, but I worry that might make me tired when it becomes dark. I’d appreciate advice on how to manage this swing shift and any tips to ensure I get the rest I need.

        • Hi Taylor,
          Navigating shift work can be challenging, but with some adjustments, you can optimize your sleep and overall well-being. The sleep pattern you choose will depend on your own sleep needs, so it’s hard to give accurate advice.
          However, I think the key is to try to establish a regular sleep schedule. Perhaps experiment with going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even on days off if you are able to. Given your shift ends at 12:30 am, you might consider sleeping from 2:00 am to 10:00 am. This schedule allows for a little downtime after work and a full eight hours of sleep, maybe with some of the time reading or relaxing in bed if that helps you unwind and feel sleepy. If you need less or more than eight hours to feel refreshed, then you can adjust the times accordingly.
          It’s true that natural sunlight can help regulate your body’s internal clock. Aim for at least 30 minutes of sunlight each morning after waking up. This can help signal to your body that it’s the start of your day.
          All the best

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