Busy school and work schedules probably cause you to wake up early every morning. On those rare, precious days when you get a chance to sleep late, you might find that your body is so used to early rising and won't allow you to sleep in and catch up on your rest. Fortunately, there are several strategies you can try to increase your odds of sleeping in late when you get the chance!
Preparing the Night Before
- Eliminate distractions. As you prepare for bed, think about the types of things that can be distracting in the morning: alarms, phones, and unwanted visitors can all ruin your chances of sleeping in. Take whatever steps you need to ensure none of these things will distract you come morning.
- Be sure to turn off any alarms that usually wake you, whether on your phone or a clock on your nightstand. While you're at it, turn any digital, lit clocks away from your face so that you won't wake and stare at the clock, which will distract you from sleeping longer. In fact, studies have shown that blue light emitted from electronics like clocks can interfere with your body's production of melatonin, the hormone that signals your brain to sleep.
- Make sure you shut and lock your doors you do not want any disturbance while you’re snoozing. If needed, place a "Do not disturb" sign on your bedroom or front door.
- Turn off your cell phone, or at least turn it to silent. If you have a landline, turn off the ringer or unplug it.
- Fill your bedroom with complete darkness. Nothing is more unpleasant than waking up with the sun in your face. In fact, your brain is wired to wake up fully when you're in a lighted environment
, so if your room is not completely dark, your body will tell you that you need to get up. Block as much sun as possible.
- If you find yourself unable to sleep in on a regular basis, it might be worth it to invest in some light-canceling window draperies. These are made of an extra-thick material that keeps your room pleasantly dark even when the sun comes up.
- If you can't cancel out the light in your room, try wearing a soft eye cover or sleep mask. It might look funny, but a good eye cover will block light and help you sleep longer.
- Have a bite to eat. Eating a good meal a few hours before bed can help you sleep in so that you don't wake up early feeling hungry for breakfast. However, you have to be careful that you choose the right food; some foods can actually make sleep difficult.
- Eat something that combines carbohydrates and protein to help make yourself sleepy. For example, you could have a piece of cheese with a few crackers, or a banana with a tablespoon of peanut butter.
- Try a few cherries or tart cherry juice about thirty minutes before bedtime. Cherries have been shown to help increase melatonin, the hormone that helps you get a restful night's sleep.
- Try a glass of warm milk. Warm milk has long been touted as a sleep aid. Milk contains tryptophan, which increases serotonin levels and helps you sleep better.
- Avoid anything with caffeine or other energy supplements. This might seem obvious, but a cup of joe in the afternoon can affect your sleep even many hours later. In one study, participants who consumed coffee six hours before bed lost an average of an hour of sleep! To be on the safe side, avoid coffee, tea, soda, or other caffeinated foods and drinks in the afternoon and evening.
- Avoid anything with a high fat content or a lot of salt (like fried foods or most fast food). These foods can cause heartburn and interfere with rest. You should also avoid acidic foods, like citrus or tomatoes, for the same reason.
- Avoid alcohol as well. Although alcohol may relax you and make you feel sleepy, it can also disrupt your sleep by causing you to wake up in the middle of the night. If you share a bed with someone, then alcohol can also be a nuisance for your partner by making your snoring worse.
- Create a sleep-inducing environment. There are several things you should do to be sure that your bedroom is optimal for a restful night's sleep, which will help you linger longer in the morning.
- Set the thermostat to the right temperature: Most people get their best sleep in a room that is around 65 degrees Fahrenheit. You might find that you prefer a few degrees higher or lower, but keeping it cool can contribute to a longer sleep period.
- Use a fan. The noise of a fan can be very relaxing. This is called “white noise” and it can help you to sleep better. Some people enjoy the feeling of a cool breeze on the face while sleeping; others don't. You can turn your fan towards you or away from you depending on what you prefer. Or you can try a white noise machine or Youtube video that simulates the sound of a fan or another soothing sound, such as the sound of rain falling or waves crashing on a beach.
- If you live in a noisy environment, consider using ear plugs to eliminate sounds that might disturb you.
- Stay up late. While this technique does not work for everyone, if you are desperate to sleep in late, sometimes staying up late can help you achieve that. By pushing yourself into exhaustion, your body might overcompensate in the morning by sleeping in past your normal wake time.
- While this technique is probably ok occasionally, avoid staying up late on a regular basis. Doing so might be bad for your health; some studies have linked night owl behavior with higher blood sugar, diabetes, and excess body fat.
- Prepare yourself for rest. You can't just go from a stress-filled day to your bed and expect to rest well. You need to get your body and mind in the right state to fully relax and commit to a deep sleep.
- Turn off the television and all electronic devices. Using electronics near your bedtime actually affects your body's production of melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone. The light emitted from electronic devices signals for your brain to stay awake and alert, which makes it harder to wind down at bedtime. You should turn off electronics at least two hours before bedtime.
- Take a warm bath or shower about an hour before you plan to hit the sack. Your body will become sleepy as you cool off from the warm shower and your body temperature drops.
- Be sure to use the bathroom right before turning in, so that you don't have to wake early to relieve yourself.
- Relax. In order to fall asleep you must relax both your body and mind. Learn to shut off the to-do list in your mind and fully relax for a good night's rest, which will help you sleep in longer.
- Try deep breathing techniques to help you relax. As you breathe deeply, your body gets more oxygen which can slow the heart rate and help you to relax. Take a slow, deep breath through your nose and let the air expand your belly, not your chest. Hold the breath for a second, then slowly let it out through your nose.
- Keep a worry journal near your bed, and if a worrying thought or another item for your to-do list pops into your head, write it down and forget it until the next day.
- Practice mindfulness. Even if you prepare a restful room, you might still wake earlier than you would like. In this situation, you need to quickly and easily allow yourself to slip back into sleep without fully rousing, or else you will lie there alert and awake and not be able to fall back asleep. Mindfulness is a meditative practice that can help you calm your mind when you wake up unintentionally.
- As you feel your body moving from a state of sleep to gradual wakefulness, keep your body in a comfortable sleeping position and keep your eyes closed. Calmly think about falling back asleep. Think about how comfortable the bed feels around you, how relaxed your mind is, and try to gently guide your mind back to rest.
- If you were dreaming, you can help your mind move back into a sleep state by re-entering the dream world. Think about where you left off in the dream, and use your imagination to think about what might happen next in the dream.
- Recite a peaceful mantra. A mantra is a short, simple phrase that you can recite over and over in a form of meditation, as a way of getting control over your mind and body. A mantra can help you to lull yourself back to sleep. In fact, reciting a mantra can help to lower your blood pressure and heart rate, helping establish a sleepy state.
- Your mantra can be as simple as "Rest. Rest. Rest." or "I welcome sleep." A soft lullaby, relaxing prayer, or self affirmation can be a nice way to lull yourself off to sleep.
- It helps if it is something you have also made a habit of reciting at bedtime, so that it serves as a cue to your mind and body that it is bedtime
- Take care of business quickly. If you find you wake up and have to use the restroom, try to do so as peacefully and quietly as possible, so that you can return to your bed and get more rest.
- Get out of bed and pull your blankets back up to the pillow. If you use the restroom quickly, this will keep your side of the bed warm with your body heat while you're away. Otherwise, you'll return to cold sheets that can make it hard to get cozy again.
- Don't turn on the lights, open the blinds, or check your phone. If you wear glasses but can navigate safely to the bathroom without them, don't put them on. Each of these things will rouse your mind and can cause you to wake more fully.
- Get out of bed. If you wake up earlier than you wanted to but find that you can't fall back asleep, don't just lay there tossing and turning! If it has been more than fifteen minutes or so since you woke up, get up and make the bed. Then, do something relaxing like gentle yoga or listening to soothing music.
- If you start to feel drowsy, go back to bed, turn down the covers, and curl up in a ball or your favorite sleeping position. This way your body continues to associate the bed with sleep and the rest of the house with wakefulness. By making the bed and turning down the covers when you go back to bed, you are sending your brain the signal that you are starting over with your sleep. This can help you fall back to sleep easily.
Improving Your Sleep Quality
- Exercise for better sleep. It can be hard to fall asleep at night or to sleep late in the morning if you are not getting adequate physical exercise every day, which exhausts the body and helps you rest more thoroughly at night.
- If you do not regularly exercise, ease into a regular routine of about 30 minutes of moderate activity a day. This can be as simple as a walk around your neighborhood. In addition to sleeping better, there are so many benefits to regular exercise, including better immunity, emotional health, and self-confidence.
- Try to maintain a regular schedule. Going to bed and rising at the same time every night is actually the best way to feel rested, instead of relying on sleeping in to "catch up" on lost sleep throughout the week.
- Instead of sleeping in on weekends, try going to bed thirty minutes to an hour earlier than your typical bedtime during the week. Then, on weekends, go to bed and rise at the same time as you do during the week. This will add in the needed extra sleep without compromising your sleep schedule.
- Most adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night to feel rested and productive; children and teenagers need significantly more (anywhere from 9 to 11 hours). The exact amount varies depending on your body's needs and how active you are throughout the day.
- Turn on the lights. Your body's natural circadian rhythm is strongly linked to light: you are naturally wired to be alert in the daytime and to sleep at night, so light contributes to wakefulness and dark contributes to sleepiness. You need to ensure that your daytime environment, whether it's an office or your home, is full of lots of natural light to keep your circadian rhythms in balance.
- Open up the blinds, take heavy draperies off the windows, and turn on your lamps or other lights in your home during the day. If you can't get a lot of lights in your indoor environment, be sure to spend a lot of time outdoors in natural light.
- Deal with stress. One of the biggest contributing factors to poor sleep quality is high stress levels. Learning coping techniques to lower your stress level can help you sleep better at night, so that you'll feel more rested and won't need to sleep in.
- Listen to and Change Your Self Talk Research has shown that having a good attitude can actually reduce stress levels. You can begin changing your attitude by saying positive things to yourself instead of negative things throughout the day. Instead of thinking about your faults and failings, think about your strong points. Instead of saying to yourself, "I'm bound to fail" or "I always mess up," tell yourself "I can do this," and "I can handle this."
- Find a creative outlet like painting, sports, music, or cooking. Expressing yourself creatively can reduce your stress and help you find pleasure in life.
- Learn to relax. There are many ways to relax throughout the day and before bed; try meditation, yoga, or tai chi to see what works for you.
- Make sure to warn anyone else in the house that you will be sleeping in late so they won't cause any distractions.
- Sleep late with a stuffed animal or toy to comfort you.
- Do not sleep too late or you will be groggy the rest of the day.
- Do not sleep in on a regular basis, as this can throw off your internal sleep cycle and make you feel more tired throughout the week.
Things You'll Need
- An eye mask
- A fan
- Light-cancelling window draperies
Sources and Citations