If you’re sleeping too much, you’re probably not being as productive as you’d like to be. Fortunately, you can take a few steps to change your sleeping pattern. First, it’s important to get on a sleeping schedule, so your body knows when it should be sleeping and when it should be awake. You should also learn some tricks to wake up more easily, as well as take some steps to help yourself stay awake during the day.
EditGetting on a Sleep Schedule
- Stay on a routine. Your body gets used to doing the same things at the same time. When it comes to sleep, a steady schedule is best. By going to bed and getting up at the same time, your body will become accustomed to sleeping a certain number of hours at night which can help you avoid sleeping too much. Your body will want to wake up.
- Make your bedtime mandatory. Set a bedtime for yourself, at least eight hours before you must get up. To make sure you are actually going to sleep at your bedtime, set an alarm on your phone about an hour before. That way, you have time to wind down, turn off the electronics, and get ready for bed.
- Be mindful of sleep cycles. One sleep cycle is about 90 minute; therefore, try to plan the amount of sleep you get around your cycles. In fact, if you find yourself awake slightly before your alarm goes off, you should just get up, rather than entering another cycle. Waking up in the beginning or middle of a cycle can make you groggy.
- Use light and darkness to your advantage. Darkness and light are important to your sleeping rituals — reducing light exposure prompts your body to start producing melatonin, a hormone that makes you sleepy. Light (either natural light from the sun in the morning or artificial light from lamps and electronic devices) will suppress the production of melatonin, helping you feel more alert. Once you get in a rhythm, the darkness will help you sleep, and the light will signal your body to wake up.
- When you go to bed, make sure to shut out any light. Turn off hall lights, and cover your alarm clock. Put up blackout curtains if streetlight comes through your windows or you must sleep during the day.
- When you wake up, use light to your advantage. Open up the curtains, if it’s light out already, or go outside for a few minutes. If it’s not light out, try using a light box with full spectrum light.
- Get exercise in earlier in the day. Don’t exercise in the three hours before going to sleep. If you exercise too close to bedtime, it may stimulate your mind and body, keeping you awake.
EditMaking Waking Up Easier
- Don’t hit the snooze button. It’s tempting to get a few extra minutes of sleep in the morning by hitting “snooze” on the alarm; however, doing so can make you groggy, which means you’ll want to sleep even more. Try to get up as soon as the alarm starts to go off.
- Don’t set multiple alarms, either. You may like waking up to the first alarm knowing you have another 15 or 30 minutes to sleep before your “real” alarm goes off, but this will interrupt your sleep cycle and make it harder to get up when it’s time.
- One way to ensure you wake up is to make sure your alarm clock isn’t within arm’s reach. Basically, you don’t want to be able to hit snooze. Try moving it across the room so you have to get out of bed to turn it off.
- Another thing that can help you wake up is to use a natural light alarm clock. It’s like having a little sun in your bedroom to wake you up.
- Take a shower. After getting some light, hop in the shower. To make it especially refreshing, try switching between hot and cold water every 20 seconds. This method will help jolt you awake.
- Look forward to something. You can make getting up easier by having something you love every morning. Maybe it’s as simple as a cup of tea or a coffee, or maybe you have a bowl of your favorite cereal. Use something you love as a motivation to get up and moving.
- Get up and move. If you find yourself getting drowsy, it’s time to move about. Try to take a short walk, even if it’s just to the bathroom or break room. 20 minutes is ideal, but if you can’t manage that, just try a quick walk around the office or a few jumping jacks to get your blood pumping.
- Avoid heavy meals at lunchtime. If you’re eating a heavy meal at lunchtime, you’re more likely to feel tired in the afternoon. Try eating something light, such as a salad. Be sure to include 3 – 4 ounces of protein (one serving), as it can help you power through the afternoon.
- It’s fine to snack on healthy foods if you start feeling hungry in the afternoon. It’s better to stick to smaller meals or snacks rather than having one huge meal at noon.
- Look away from your computer. If you find yourself getting sleepy at your computer, it’s time to take a break, at least from staring at the screen. Try to look at something else across the room for at least five minutes.
- Spread out your caffeine intake. It’s no secret that caffeine can help you stay awake; however, science has shown it’s best to spread out your caffeine throughout the day instead of taking one big dose in the morning in the form of three or four cups of coffee. To spread it out, try drinking something with a lower amount of caffeine, such as green tea, more often throughout the day, or just drinking smaller amounts of coffee at a time.
- Also, don’t drink caffeine too close to bedtime, as it can keep you awake, making you more tired the next day. Try to stop the caffeine about six hours before bedtime (and remember chocolate contains caffeine!).
- Try a little music. Music can help rev up your energy, especially if it’s something you like. Instead of sticking to silence, plug in some headphones if you’re at work or crank up the radio if you’re at home. It’s hard to fall asleep if you’re bopping your head along to your favorite song.
- Skip naps. Even if you feel like going to sleep, try to stay away from the bedroom or the couch. Don’t be anywhere that you enjoy snoozing.
- If you find yourself snoozing constantly, even at your desk, you may want to see a doctor about being tested for narcolepsy.
- Wash your face. You don’t actually have to use soap; however, taking a trip to the bathroom to throw some cold water on your face can help you wake up. If you’ve got makeup on, try putting some cold water on the back of your neck.
- If you find that you are still sleeping an excessive amount, you should definitely see a doctor. You could be suffering from any number of health conditions, from sleep apnea and narcolepsy to depression.