Regretting the decision of choosing the next episode over sleep would not encourage one's eyelids to part ways the next morning. Unfortunately, the world does not function to suit the night owls. Schools, workplaces, and roosters continue to hustle along with the sun while some continue to snooze their alarms for hours.
Jannatul Ferdous Anan, currently a third-year student of English at Jahangirnagar University, has made peace with the prices for lack of discipline. She used to follow the universally celebrated ‘early to bed and early to rise’ manner when everything was normal. Her classes would keep her awake and busy from the morning till the evening. However, because of the long lockdown, her discipline proved to be unnecessary in front of Netflix.
“Of course, I would pick the next episode over sleeping. But even when I have tasks and assignments to do, I find it more efficient to work at night. Everything’s quiet at that time and I can be more attentive,” she explains why attempting to reset her sleeping cycle, for now, is pointless to her.
She is confident about fixing her sleeping habit whenever she needs to. Her key is to be strict with herself for only a couple of days. “Even though it can be extreme sometimes, I force myself to wake up one or two hours earlier than usual. Of course, I’d feel slightly sleepy and tired the whole day, but everything goes back to place if I tolerate that. So when it’s the right time for bed, I can fall asleep instantly.”
Anan suggests continuing this for several days, and the organic clock would get the hint on its own. However, she warns that it is better to go for this method only when one is sure to be on vacation during those resetting days. Otherwise, one’s thinking process and concentration may be disrupted the next day and cause harm at work.
Some might also experience a lack of resolve, or waking up in the middle of the night and being unable to fall back asleep during this method. They can try physical exercises and workout sessions as Nishat Sultana does. She is a 28-year-old architect and graphic designer from Dhaka who is adapted to staying awake late at night for projects and submissions.
Her mechanism agrees to fall asleep whenever and wherever due to physical tiredness. If she needs to adjust her sleeping schedule, she starts working out slightly more than usual. “I grew a habit of exercising regularly even if it’s for 10 minutes. It helps the body keep on track with the circadian rhythm,” tells Nishat.
She adds some tips for creating an ideal sleeping environment along with her method to promote falling asleep on time. Reducing artificial light and exposure to natural light improves the rhythm almost instantly. As our body naturally releases a hormone called melatonin, which promotes sleepiness, in the absence of light. Therefore, tricking our body accordingly would encourage our brain to follow the natural sleeping schedule.
Misba Sultana, a freelance illustrator and writer at wikiHow, used to have trouble with her schedule for being an insomniac night owl. The tiredness from sleeping less and attending classes all day still could not make her fall asleep at night. “Part of the reason I chose to be a freelancer is having trouble with sleeping no matter what I did. As a result, I used to have difficulty focusing on work as well. Now that I’m free to function whenever I want, I can be much more efficient,” she explains.
Whenever her sleeping routine gets out of hand, she plans a pattern similar to chronotherapy on her own and maintains a routine of 26-27 hour-day. Sleeping two to three hours later each day gradually aligns her biological clock to the natural one.
“Of course, one has to be adult enough to go for this method. This one is absolutely not for youngsters who have the possibility of getting a scolding session from strict parents,” she jokingly sets a disclaimer.
One might also go the extra mile, such as developing a personal relaxation routine and a bedtime habit. Performing light yoga and meditation, nighttime skincare drills, aromatherapy etc. can train our brain to set a cue for going to sleep. Setting the room temperature to a comfortable cool, dimming the lights, changing the mattress and pillowcase to fresh ones are said to promote falling asleep. Those suffering from stress and insomnia might give these methods a shot before going to austere measures.
To prevent messing up the sleeping schedule yet again, some lines must not be crossed. Consuming any beverage that contains caffeine might sound tempting, but not to be remiss that temptations can lead one to the abyss of hellfire. Despite the temporary sense of freedom, one needs to keep in mind that fluctuating sleeping hours too drastically can hinder developing a steady pattern to recharge.
Reducing screen time should also be handled strictly when one is trying to fix their sleeping schedule. Deciding to watch the best TV shows from the watch list during the resetting period would be a grave mistake resulting in spirals of remorse.
Not to forget that these methods can only be as effective as first-aid treatments. Unfortunately, they might not solve chronic sleeping disorders and other mental health issues. Stress, depression, anxiety etc. can cause disturbances in slumber and should be treated with care. Professional therapy is recommended for such individuals.
Whether it is because of jetlag, ‘just one more chapter,’ or pulling an all-nighter to meet the demands of harsh online classes, most of us have destroyed our sleeping cycle at one point of the lockdown, if not at one point of life. Some might go through a subconscious pressure to reset their cycle as soon as possible. Nevertheless, as worrying does not take away the trouble, might as well go with the flow until the days of indiscipline finally come to an end.
Mehenaz Sultana is a student of English at Shahjalal University of Science and Technology.