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I have been struggling with my sleep for a very long while. This has been a chronic problem. One that happens every night. I would like advice on how to reset my schedule so I’m able to fall asleep at a decent hour and wake up at one as well.

My current schedule is as follows - Wake up- 12:00 - 14:00 Begin to feel tired - 04:00 - 08:00 Sleep - 5:00 -12:00/14:00 (The reason I left a wide gap for sleep/wake up is because that can vary a good bit. Also, reason why it says current is because my schedule is constantly changing little by little.)

My schedule during the day isn’t important, so don’t let that conflict with any advice.

  • Questions about health issues and mind hacks are not on topic for lifehacks.se – Caius Jard Feb 19 at 6:59
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  1. Decide the time when you what to go to bed every day, and the time when you want to wake up.
  2. Go to bed to the right time, and wake up at the right time, no matter what. Don't let a movie or cleaning the floor make you break the rule. Don't snooze the alarm closk, just rise and shine.
  3. Repeat from 1.
  4. If it did not work yet, use more determination and repeat again from 1.

It is perfectly normal that sometimes you will go to bed to a different hour than decided - it is called life. It is also perfectly fine (especially at the beginning) to modify the times when you go to sleep / wake up - depending on the reality of your life. You adjust your schedule as well as your life.

Actually, the entire thing is about what you really want. About how you set your priorities. I tell you this by my own experience. It is also about getting out of your comfort zone.

Comfort: watch 3 movies instead of sleeping, like every day in the last year. Out-of-comfort: Do not watch movie, go to bed.

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You should use the way your body works to your advantage.

Light

Light is the most important factor that regulates your sleep rythm.

To wake up, you should expose yourself to the maximum amount of light possible. The easiest way to do that is to go outside! (The measurable amount of light outside is 10 times more than in a room with unshaded windows.)

If you cannot go outside, buy a daylight lamp and expose yourself to its light during breakfast (for at least 20 minutes).

To fall asleep, on the other hand, you should dim your lights at least 30 minutes before going to bed. Red light aids the production of sleep hormones in your body, so avoid the blueish hues of displays (like phones, tablets and TVs).

Temperature

In general, being cold wakes you up. So try taking cold (or at least cool) showers in the morning or warm showers in the evening. If you don't shower in the morning, splash your face with cold water.

In the evening, keep your your bedroom cool but your feet warm. Having cold feet keeps you from falling asleep, but so does a hot and stuffy bedroom.

Drinks

If you're not lactose intollerant, drink 1 glass of warm milk with honey before going to bed.

Certain teas like hops, melissa, valerian and lavender can help you get sleepy, but they don't work like chemical medication where 1 pill makes you sleep. You'd have to drink the tea regularily for a minimum of 2 weeks.

Hands off any drink with alcohol or caffein! Otherwise I would avoid cold and fizzy drinks.

Food

A full stomach makes you sleepy, but it actually hinders you from falling asleep. Either eat a light dinner or eat early enough that most of the food already passed your stomach when you go to bed.

Avoid foods for dinner that are harder to digest like lettuce (or salad in general), mushrooms and too much fat.

Psychology

You can train your body to fall sleep quicker if you go to bed for no other purpose than to sleep. This is called Classical Conditioning and takes a few weeks to accomplish, but is extremely effective.

The rules are simple:

  • When you wake up, stand up. Don't lie around for half an hour before getting up.
  • When you lie down, don't do anything but sleep. No TV, smartphone or novel in bed.
  • If you want to lie down but not sleep, lie down on the couch, but not the bed.
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    These are all excellent points and have helped me in the past. Another thing is, if you can't sleep and you really have to, drink hot milk with honey. Also a shot of amaretto will help. – RedSonja Feb 8 at 13:28
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Assuming you are in good health and this is just something you live with rather than an overlooked complication;

Outside of solely employing the reactive methods suggested in other answers, you may also attempt alternative sleep patterns such as Biphasic or even Polyphasic sleep and rely on more frequent naps as opposed to long periods of REM.

Some genetically defined tendencies to sleep in certain ways can benefit greatly from organizing around these schedules rather than trying to force out the good ol' 8 hour Monophasic sleep.

So, see which one interests you the most and look for additional resources that could suit you (I've initially found these in Tim Ferriss' 4 hour Body book so if I were to add more to this answer it'd be almost a whole chapter).

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I like Virolino's answer, +1 to that. I'd add one more thing:

Get physically tired:

  1. In the morning (it's easier to convince yourself than if you're already tired from work) do some kind of exercise for 20-60 minutes. Don't bother with gym, but go for a run or do some yoga/bodyweight (no-equipment) exercises. Go for a fast walk if you don't feel fit enough to run. It a) gives a great feeling for the rest of the day, b) wakes you up nicely, c) keeps you fit and d) makes you tired in the evening.

  2. Sleep less. If you're used to sleep for 8 hours, set your schedule to 7.5 (and do the extra exercise). In the evening you might feel like not having energy for what you'd like to do, but it will be easier to slowly move your schedule backwards to a "normal" schedule. But you'll have to be strict with yourself about your alarm clock (@virolino again)

  • Your point is very good. Physical exercise is definitely better for improved lifestyle. On the other hand, I can tell from experience that if you are only after a good sleep (at night) any engaging activity which causes you to become tired will do - even office work. But if office work is boring and you add nothing extra during free time - sleep may not come - you are not "usefully" tired. – virolino Feb 8 at 5:10
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My schedule during the day isn’t important, so don’t let that conflict with any advice.

I had similar sleep problems in multiple phases of my life. During those phases, I also did not have any important commitments during the daytime.

If you consider you really want to change your sleeping pattern, try to commit to activity during the day. This can be sports, voluntary work or a hobby. This would probably only work if you make personal commitments with other people. (it's easy to be lazy if it's only about you). Make it something you have to leave the house for.

Some suggestions:

  1. Team sport
  2. Gym with personal trainer
  3. In-class courses
  4. Walk an over-occupied friend's dog

As for the transition, I usually just cold turkey. One broken sleep, a busy day and you'll sleep like a baby by 10pm.

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As Virolino puts it, it's as complicated and as simple as going to bed when you need to go to bed, and getting up when you need to get up, every single day. This trains your body to always set to the same sleep cycle. I generally wake up naturally a few minutes before my alarm.

However, there are ways to make this process easier.

I have my Fitbit set to alert me when it's time to go to bed, and I sleep in all of 30 minutes on weekends. (And most of that time is really just me laying around in bed being lazy.) In general, I've found that ~30 minutes of wiggle room doesn't make or break my sleep schedule.

Socially, people will probably give you crap about it if it's a new change, until it becomes the established norm for you. I had this happen when I first went to college; my gaming buddies would razz me when I got off the computer to get ready for bed at 9:30. But once it became the norm for me, they actually helped reinforce the habit. My friends have now figured out that I go to bed early, and they're surprised if I stay up late.

If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, I would highly recommend investing in a sun lamp, or any type of lamp advertised for Seasonal Affective Disorder. I currently have one plugged into a cheap timer, meaning that about 15 minutes before I need to be out of bed, the "sun" turns on directly over my face. This helps manage Circadian rhythms by tricking your eyes, and thereby your brain, into thinking the sun is up, and that it's time to be awake.

Other than that, it's really just a lot of perseverance. However, the benefits should start becoming apparent even after a few days. Being able to go to the grocery store before most people are even awake is an absolutely delightful experience, believe me!

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Some great answers here. My tips

Snooker

Stay up all night playing snooker. Then make it through the next day. You'll sleep fine!

Politics

Tune into a TV show featuring political debate. Most people drift off pretty quick!

Bridget Riley

The art of Bridget Riley is well known for it's psychedelic properties. Less well known: if you combine blinking rapidly with staring at one of her works, sleep rapidly follows

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