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Schedule Disruptions Can Screw Up Your Sleep Pattern. Here’s What to Do

Man staying up late, working on his laptop.
Pinkyone/Shutterstock

If you don’t need to get up for work, what reason is there to get out of bed? Schedule disruptors are messing up your sleep schedule, but there are things you can do about it.

Even if you’re still working, there is a chance that your significant other’s new schedule is disrupting yours. Here’s a simple, and probably not uncommon, example of this from my life that I’m sure lots of people are experiencing right now.

My husband isn’t able to play music at breweries and wineries because they’re all closed to dining in, so he procured a third-shift stocking job at a local “essential” store. For his old job, he used to get up at noon and go to bed around three or four in the morning. Now he gets up around five in the evening and goes to bed anywhere between nine and eleven in the morning.

I find it challenging to get to sleep when he isn’t here, so I am going to bed three hours later than I usually do (usually falling asleep about a half an hour before he gets home), which makes me get up a few hours later than normal, and has thrown off my whole schedule.

This sort of schedule shifting is repeating in thousands of variations across world as people get used to their spouses working new schedule, their own new schedules, or both of them having no schedules at all.

So, what are we to do?

Aim to Keep Your Usual Bedtime

Man reading book in bed to help unwind at the end of the day.
Lasse Ansaharju/Shutterstock

It may not be easy, especially if you’re feeling anxious over the spread of the COVID-19 virus or the temporary loss of your job, but you should try to go to bed at your usual time each night. If you’re not tired, don’t lie in bed staring at the ceiling, get up and do something that will make you tired. (Reading sometimes does that for me.)

Leave your phone out of the bedroom (not just because of the germs, but because screen time makes your body think it’s daylight). Don’t watch TV right up until you go to bed—take some quiet time in dimmer light to help your body relax and get ready for stasis. Meditating might even help.

Also, nap culture is getting pretty big right now, but if you find you’re having trouble getting to sleep at night and you’re new to naps, it may be napping (or what time you’re napping) that is affecting you.

Set an Alarm in the Morning (Even if You Don’t Need It Right Now)

Setting your alarm to get up at the same time each day can help (just make sure you’re not hitting the snooze button). It may be difficult if you’re trying to transition back to your normal wake-up time, but now is the time to start preparing for the possibility of going back to work.

After a few days of less sleep on this schedule, you should start to be able to get to sleep earlier.

Make Your Own Schedule

If your lack of a schedule is disrupting your sleep, create your own daily routine. Make a chore list or a daily checklist. Use a calendar to write down what you want to accomplish each day of the week.

Even during self-isolating, there are plenty of things to get done. Even when you don’t have to punch a clock for work, you can still find work around the house. Schedule yourself to clean a different room of the house each day, or to work on a craft or art project you had to put off because of your busy work schedule.

If you give yourself some motivation, by creating a schedule for even the most mundane daily things, it will help you get up and get moving each day, and might also help you get to sleep at a decent time each night.

Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow is a professional writer with two decades of experience. She has written and edited for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and more. Yvonne is a published poet and short story writer, and she is a life coach. Read Full Bio »

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