# How to Set a Sleep Clock: 14 Steps (with Pictures)

Sleep is one of the most important rhythms of the human body. The body needs 6-8 hours of sleep every day to repair and refresh itself for the next 24 hours. Unfortunately, things out of control can disrupt sleep patterns, and we may need to change our sleeping habits, either temporarily or permanently. As long as you take the time to understand your sleep habits and be disciplined, you can learn how to adjust your bedtime.

## Step

### Part 1 of 3: Determining Sleep

#### Step 1. Decide what time you want to wake up

If you want to change your bedtime so you can wake up early enough to go to work, for example, you might want to get up about an hour before you leave for work.

### Consider all variables when making a decision. What is your morning habit like? How long do you usually need to get up, get ready, and go?

#### Step 2. Calculate your optimal hours of sleep

Most people need 6-8 hours of sleep each night, but the exact duration of sleep needed varies from person to person. Determine what time you need to go to bed to wake up at your desired time.

• One way to determine this is to keep a sleep log. Record how long you sleep each night for two weeks. Calculate the average duration. Then, count down from that average duration, to determine what time you need to sleep in order to sleep for the average duration and wake up at the time you want. For example, if you normally sleep for about 6 hours on average and want to wake up at 5am, you should start sleeping at 11pm.
• Doctors recommend getting at least 7 hours of sleep every night.

#### Step 3. Change the hours of sleep gradually

If you usually wake up at 10am, but want to start waking up at 5am, it won't happen overnight. Sleep experts state that the best way to change your sleep cycle is to make adjustments in 15-minute reductions.

• For example, if you usually wake up at 8am but want to start waking up at 5am, set an alarm and wake up at 7.45am. Do this 3-4 days until you feel comfortable waking up at that time. Then, subtract another 15 minutes. Continue until you reach your desired wake-up time.
• If you want to change your sleep more quickly, try cutting out 30 minutes.

#### Step 4. Set the alarm at the desired wake-up time

Don't hit the snooze button. While getting up early can be difficult, hitting the snooze button doesn't help, and will actually make you even more tired, because it doesn't allow you to sleep well. Instead, wake up when the alarm goes off. You can also place the alarm across the room, so that when you wake up, you will have to go across the room to turn off the alarm.

#### Step 5. Be consistent

The key to being able to effectively change the hours of sleep is to do it consistently. In other words, go to bed and wake up at the same time every day of the week--including weekends!

### Part 2 of 3: Avoid Food, Drinks and Stimulants

#### Step 1. Fast all night

Have a light dinner early in the evening, then eat nothing. Harvard researchers found that eating time affects the internal clock; Changing meal times can help adjust to changes in your schedule, whether it's due to work, activities, or travel.

• Fast approximately 12 hours before your desired wake-up time. Then, get up at the time you want, and eat a healthy breakfast that contains protein. Fasting helps reset the rhythm of the internal clock to start the day when you break your fast by eating breakfast. This in turn helps to make the new waking time a habit.
• Try to eat three meals on a regular basis at equal intervals throughout the day. Make sure your diet contains plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Avoid fatty foods, which can irritate the stomach.
• Don't eat a lot in the three hours before bedtime.
• Do not eat and drink anything during the fasting period. However, water can still be drunk.

#### Step 2. Avoid stimulants after noon

Depending on body size, amount consumed, and overall health, the effects of caffeine can remain active in the body for up to 5-10 hours after initial consumption. Avoid coffee, caffeinated tea, and soda.

### Nicotine should also be avoided, as it is a stimulant and can keep you awake

#### Step 3. Don't drink alcohol after dinner

Alcohol is a depressant, which means it slows down the body. While it helps you sleep, alcohol also slows down your metabolism and disrupts the brain during the sleep cycle. You are likely to wake up more often if you drink alcohol before bed.

#### Step 4. Do not do strenuous exercise 1-2 hours before bed

Doctors recommend avoiding strenuous cardio a few hours before going to bed; Strenuous exercise can disrupt circadian rhythms and prevent restful sleep. However, stretching and light exercise, such as a night walk, may help get you ready for bed.

### Part 3 of 3: Creating a Conducive Atmosphere for Sleep

#### Step 1. Wait for bedtime to go to bed

Napping is a great way to re-energize when your sleep pattern has stabilized, but it's not great when you're still trying to change your sleep pattern. Don't sleep at all during the day so you can sleep at the right time at night.

### If you must take a nap, consider taking a short nap, no more than 20 minutes

#### Step 2. Stay away from screens and monitors

About an hour before going to bed, turn off all electronics and dim cell phones and computers. Doctors observed that the eyes were sensitive to the bluish light emitted by electronic screens. Bright screens not only burdened the eyes, but also tricked the body into thinking that it was day and the mind should still be active.

### Instead of staring at a screen, read a book, write, or draw. Do something relaxing that relaxes you or makes you feel rested. Consider dimming the lights while doing a relaxing activity

#### Step 3. Set room and body temperature

Because your body temperature drops during sleep, you can trick your body into sleeping by mimicking a drop in temperature.

• If it's cold outside, take a hot shower so that when you get out of the shower, your body temperature drops.
• If it's hot outside, let the room heat up, then turn on the air conditioner.

#### Step 4. Make the room dark at night and light in the morning

Sleep experts observe that circadian rhythms are influenced by light and darkness. That means, many people have trouble sleeping when it's still light outside, which happens during the summer due to daylight saving.

• At night, close the blinds and curtains. Turn off the bright lights on the ceiling. Consider buying thick curtains that prevent any light from coming in. If it's still too bright or too much light is coming in, consider using a sleep mask.
• In the morning, turn on all the lights as soon as you wake up. That will help the body start being active to get through the day.

#### Step 5. Turn on white noise

You can listen to light music or turn on the fan as a background sound.

• Listen to the sound of ocean waves or rain, which can help calm your body and get a good night's sleep. Avoid lyrical songs or any songs you know well, as they can be too distracting when you're trying to sleep.
• You can also buy white noise and other sound machines which have a wide variety of sounds to choose from.

## Tips

• If you've tried all of the suggestions above, but still can't get to sleep at the right time at night to wake up at the time you want, try taking a melatonin supplement. Melatonin is a hormone produced by the brain at night to help the body fall asleep. Be sure to take doses of 5 mg or less (you can halve the dose, which is 2.5 mg; higher doses are not always better). Most people fall asleep 15-30 minutes after taking the supplement.
• If you can't adjust your sleep schedule, check with your doctor. A sleep therapist can teach you better sleep patterns and prescribe medication if necessary.