Good afternoon, good morning, and good evening!
How’s your day going? Hope everything’s according to the schedule – if there is one for today. Mine definitely needs some improvement, but I’m working on it.
Now, let me ask you a question: Do you know why it’s so important to have a daily routine? Wake up and go to sleep around the same time? Exercise, eat, nap – everything needs a particular place in your day-to-day life, but why is that?
If the answer is “no” (to any of the questions above), you’ll find everything you need down below!
Why You Need a Schedule?
Okay, let’s start with the basics: Your body.
Ever heard of a circadian rhythm? Roughly saying, your body knows whether it’s day or night without your consciousness involved, and behaves accordingly – thanks to the hormones in your brain.
Your body is tuned into the specific rhythm of your life.
Now let’s imagine that you have a stable sleep/activity routine. You wake up around the same time every day. You exercise, eat, relax, go out according to a schedule. And then you go to sleep – of course, at the same time as well.
Your body gets used to the schedule too. The brain knows when to wake you up, when to be active, and when to relax – and sends signals to the rest of your body to prepare.
Then what’ll happen if you suddenly decide to disrupt the pattern?
Just like with every surprise, your body gets confused. If you were waking up at 9 AM every day for months and then suddenly decide to switch to 6 AM, it’ll be like a major quake to your organism.
Your brain, that’s so used to waking up gentler and later, will have to use additional resources to get you up earlier. You’ll be sleepy and groggy for hours while your body will be gradually coming back to its usual state.
Similar things happen when you try to be active at the time you usually go to sleep or when you go to sleep too early. Only this time, instead of speeding everything up, your brain has to slow down all the processes in your body.
It’s a very simplified description, but for the sake of this post, it should be enough. You already understand why a daily schedule is necessary, right?
Staying up for a couple more episodes of that brand new series on Netflix surely won’t affect your health much. But doing so often and without a pattern won’t do you any good either – unless, of course, it’s a part of your nightly routine.
How to Create One
Alright, now that we have the “why” out of the way, let’s get into that “how”.
You probably already have a more or less specified time for waking up and going to sleep – typically, daily lives don’t allow for much diversity. But to make this pattern stable and beneficial, let’s get through another couple of points.
There are many ways to put a proper schedule into action – but the thing you have to begin with is your chronotype. Do you prefer to be active in the morning or at night? Are you an owl or a lark?
Try to figure out when you naturally feel energized.
For example, I was convinced for the most of my life that I’m an owl. Nothing could be better for me than staying up late into the night, finishing homework and peacefully listening to music.
But soon after I moved out I realized that, in fact, I like morning better.
It’s just that my family wasn’t bothering me at night and I could spend a proper “introvert time” with myself. When I left that additional distraction behind, my willingness to stay up until 3 AM notably decreased (but definitely not disappeared at all).
So, as always, listen to yourself!
Adjust Your Schedules
Of course, not everyone can stay at home for the whole morning trying to find the best time for waking up. You probably have a job or classes that just don’t allow you to sleep in.
The least you can do, then, is to figure out if it’s better to wake up earlier for a workout and some peaceful time alone or leave it for the evening.
When do you feel more energized? Just after waking up or before going to sleep?
Come up with clear boundaries for your everyday sleep. When you’d like to wake up, when – take a nap, when – start getting ready for the night, etc. It may take a few days to find out what’s “yours”, but the sooner you start working on your routine, the better.
And you know what might be a great help in that? Printable planners!
I know how much easier it is to have everything prepared and ready to be filled. That’s why I made two planners to go with this post – one for creating a sleep schedule and another for your everyday routine.
Sounds interesting? Sign up down below, and get both of them in a moment!
Take It Easy at Night
Find a place in your routine for the time you’ll start getting ready for bed. Ideally, it should be at least 30 minutes before the actual time of falling asleep.
Don’t force your body to shut down in the wink of an eye. You need to give it signals that the time to relax is coming.
Here are some basics – but you can include your own tips as well!
– No caffeine, alcohol, heavy meals
The most basic of all, huh? But a little reminder is never too bad.
These three things are overwhelming for your organism – and it’s not something you should be looking for before sleep.
Caffeine boosts your heart rate and brain activity – I mean, that’s exactly why we drink it in the morning.
Alcohol, despite having some lulling effects, will only worsen the quality of your sleep. Hangovers feel so bad partially because of this.
And heavy meals make you drowsy, yes, but that’s because your body puts energy into digestion. When you’re trying to send it to sleep right after eating, you basically allow your stomach to leave unburnt calories in your system.
– Limit phone usage
So, here’s the thing. Your body’s circadian rhythm depends on the amount of light you’re receiving. Originally, thousands of years ago, we had to rely on natural light only.
But these days we have lamps, and monitors, and phones, and all kinds of artificial sources that emit light 24/7. As a result, our brains get confused and keep us awake at night.
By staring at a screen before going to bed you’re telling your body that it’s still a good time to be up and about.
Limit the amount of bright light around you before going to sleep, use softer and natural-like lamps instead. You’ll feel more relaxed and ready to sleep when the time will come.
– Relaxing habit
The best way to make a habit out of your freshly made schedule is to build other, smaller habits around it. Remind your body that you are going to sleep soon – your brain is very good at catching hints, as long as they’re consistent.
Spend some time coloring pages or decorating your journal, read a book, meditate, take time for skincare. Go through your self-care plan and see what can become a part of your sleep routine as well.
Wake Up Well
Morning is the most important part of the day. Everything’s built on these few first hours, so make sure to create a good, consistent routine here as well.
– No caffeine and alcohol
Yup, yup, it’s still here.
Remember I mentioned morning coffee? Forget about it. Caffeine right after waking up is bad for your health.
Your brain has to wake up on its own before being ready to accept an additional boost – or the energy drop will be even worse later. Try to stay away from your favorite Americano for at least an hour or two.
I hope I don’t have to explain why alcohol in the morning is a bad idea? Unless you are a nightshift worker, and 9 AM is more of an option for a drink than 9 PM. Or you’re planning to spend the rest of the day at a party.
– Limit phone usage
Ah, I keep repeating myself, don’t I? But this one is my personal advice.
Staying away from social media for at least 30 minutes after waking up is one of the things you can’t underestimate. It gives you time to focus on yourself and tune in to your own thoughts instead of worldwide trends or your friend’s new selfie.
Use this time to plan your day: what you have to do today, what you want to do. Or take time to focus on the present moment itself – mindful morning leads to a more peaceful day.
Help yourself to get rid of the reasons for anxiety instead of wiring it up even more.
– Motivating habit
I already mentioned mindfulness and planning, but there are so much more options! Find something that’ll help you get ready for the day ahead.
Exercise, write down a journal prompt, meditate, prepare a delicious breakfast, or check on your plants.
Make your routine not only healthy but enjoyable as well, and morning will quickly become the best part of your day!
Stick to Your Schedule
Even on weekends. Even when you can’t fall asleep for longer than usual. Even when depression meets you first thing in the morning.
Your mental health issues might try to convince you to stay in bed for as long as you can. Lack of energy and motivation is not an unusual sight when you spent the night fighting your demons.
But don’t give up. Get up and get going, as much as you can.
I know from my own experience for how long depression can keep you in bed when every move weighs a ton and eyes refuse to stay closed. I know – but a good way to fight it is to adjust your body to a familiar routine.
When you have nothing to look forward to on any given day, a habit will drag you out of bed. Your mind might be aching, but the rest of your body knows how to keep going. And sometimes it’s all you can ask for.
So, what do you think? Let’s get ready for a new day?