Five ways to readjust your sleep schedule before heading back to the office

The hours of sleep you need according to your age 1:23

. – In many parts of the world, people are trying to return to life before the pandemic, at least when it comes to work and school.

For many, that means a morning struggle to wake up, eat breakfast, prepare lunches, get the kids and themselves out the door, and struggle with the commute to work.

“Without commuting, people have been able to sleep late, and when that changes, it will take some time for them to adjust to the new normal,” says Dr. Bhanuprakash Kolla, a sleep medicine specialist at the Clinic’s Sleep Medicine Center. May from Rochester, Minnesota.

Night people can find it especially difficult to wake up early in the morning, so “if work hours are flexible, you have to come up with a plan to start work later,” says sleep specialist Kenneth Wright, Professor of Comprehensive Psychology at the University of Colorado Boulder.

If that’s not possible, a few weeks before your return to work date, decrease your bedtime in 15-minute intervals and set the alarm to wake up 15 minutes earlier each day until you reach your goal, said Rebecca Robbins, associate scientist. from Brigham & Women’s Hospital that studies sleep.

“Fifteen-minute increments are recommended because it’s enough to move in the direction of a new time zone, a new work schedule or whatever without being too disruptive,” said Robbins, who is an instructor of medicine at the School of Medicine. from Harvard.

“Unfortunately, we cannot shift our sleep schedules in a major way from one day to the next and expect to be fine,” he added. “It takes time, so you have to be patient.”

Here are five other tips to ease the transition from your sleep schedule.

1. Establish a consistent bedtime and wake-up time

Establishing a set time to go to sleep and wake up is essential to regain your sleep schedules, said Dr. Raj Dasgupta, a sleep specialist and assistant professor of clinical medicine at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine.

It’s important to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends or work-from-home days, experts told CNN. Having an irregular sleep schedule is associated with major health problems, including cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, dementia, mood disorders, and immune dysfunction, according to studies.

“Set the alarm in the morning and don’t hit the snooze button,” advises Dasgupta. “Do your best to get out of bed when the alarm goes off and try to go outside, especially if the weather is nice and sunny in the morning. This will suppress melatonin and restore your circadian rhythm.”

Turning on the house lights in the morning and taking breaks from work with a walk outside during the day will also help reset the body clock, Wright says.

To get your body ready for bed, “it’s just as important to dim lights and electronics in the home at night,” Wright said.

2. Avoid sleep inhibitors

There are many bad habits that can interfere with the quality of your sleep. Drinking beer, wine or liquor before bed is a guaranteed killjoy for good sleep, because it metabolizes in the middle of the night and will wake you up.

Another guideline to avoid is using the bedroom to watch TV or work. You have to train your brain to expect sleep when you enter the bedroom, so that the bed is solely for sleeping and having sex, says Dasgupta.

“This means that you don’t have to take your laptop to bed and put your mobile phone aside,” he says. “No more ‘working from bed’. If you can’t sleep once in bed, the general rule of thumb is to spend no more than 20 minutes tossing and turning.

“Instead, get out of bed and do something relaxing in very low light, and then go back to bed when you’re ready to fall asleep,” he added. Experts point out that stimulants such as nicotine, coffee, black or green tea and soft drinks should be avoided after mid-afternoon, especially if you have insomnia. Spicy foods can also upset your stomach, and therefore your sleep.

Make sure your bed and pillows are comfortable, and that the room is cool – 15-20 degrees Celsius is best.

3. Start getting ready for bed an hour before you want to sleep

Relaxation is another key to falling asleep easily. That is why it is important to close your laptop, put away your smartphone, turn off the television and take some time to put aside the stresses of the day.

“At night, have a relaxation routine for yourself and your family,” says Dasgupta. “It can be things like reading, stretching, meditating, or doing a puzzle with the family. Make sure you have a set time to turn off the lights and keep the bedroom cool, quiet, and dark.”

Hot baths or stretching or yoga before bed are also great options, he added.

“These exercises can promote feelings of relaxation and improve the quality of sleep. Alternatively, physical tension can be relieved before bed using progressive muscle relaxation, meditation and other relaxation techniques,” he said.

4. No more random naps

If you’ve been enjoying daytime naps during the pandemic, it’s time to kick that habit. Now that you’re trying to have a consistent bedtime, experts say you should take a nap only if you’re lacking sleep.

“If you have to take a nap, make it an ‘energy nap’, which is a short, sweet nap that lasts between 15 and 20 minutes and occurs between the hours of noon and 2 in the afternoon, when most of us we have that feeling of fatigue and drowsiness, “says Dasgupta.

And if you suffer from coronasomnia, “then napping is definitely not the answer to your problems. In fact, it can make your insomnia worse by reducing the urge to sleep at night,” he added.

5. Exercise

For many, it was not easy to prioritize exercise during the pandemic – juggling all the stress while looking for a way to work or study from home was exhausting. Now that things are looking up, Dasgupta said, it’s time to put exercise on your daily schedule.

“Exercising improves sleep by reducing the onset of sleep, which means it takes less time to fall asleep and decreases the amount of time you are awake in bed at night,” he said.

If you suffer from coronasomnia (or had insomnia before the pandemic), studies have shown that moderate physical exertion “allows individuals with insomnia to fall asleep faster, sleep longer, and enjoy a better quality of sleep than before exercising.” he added.

When do you have to exercise? When it’s convenient for you, experts say. Many people rely on morning exercise as a way to jump-start the brain and fill the body with endorphins to feel good during the day.

“Traditional sleep hygiene dictates that intensive exercise during the three-hour period preceding sleep can have a negative impact on sleep … because it can increase heart rate, body temperature, and adrenaline levels,” says Dasgupta .

But some studies have found no problem with nighttime exercise, he added, “as long as vigorous activity is avoided for at least an hour or two before bedtime.”

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