Tips for Resetting Your Internal Clock After a Time Change

Our internal clocks are the reason why we tend to feel sleepy around the same time each night, and also why we still tend to wake up at the same time in the mornings even if we don’t set an alarm. Our bodies tend to want to follow consistent sleep patterns as long as we’re not pulling all-nighters or traveling across several time zones, which is the key for us to get high-quality sleep.

Our sleep schedules depend on the signals we send our bodies, meaning, we can also send signals to our bodies to adjust our sleep schedules. However, our internal clocks are sometimes ruined by different factors such as jet lag when we travel across several time zones or working on different shifts.

If you have fallen into a sleep schedule that doesn’t work well for you, or if you’re having trouble getting up in the morning or staying up later than you want, you don’t have to worry because you can always reset your internal clock after a time change. Today, we are going to give you tips for resetting your internal clock.

Adjust Your Bedtime

If you want to change your bedtime and your goal is to sleep earlier, then you can try to slowly scale back your bedtime until you are at the desired hour. However, you need to be patient in doing this. It’s because according to some physicians, it’s easier to push away sleep than to advance it. Meaning, you could stay up later an hour at a time but going to bed earlier is difficult to do. Therefore, going slowly in small increments is the best way to do it. Adjust your bedtime no more than 15 minutes earlier every two to three days should do the trick.

Avoid Napping Even When You’re Tired

It’s better to schedule an exercise when you feel like napping. It’s because napping can interfere with going to sleep at night. Exercising can chase away your sleepiness during the day, allowing you to save up the drive to sleep for later.

Avoid Sleeping In

man sleeping on a table in a store

As much as possible, try to get up the same time each day. It is important to be consistent if you want to maintain a functioning sleep schedule. If you set an alarm, make sure that you don’t hit snooze. It is also great if you change your state of mind and look forward to tomorrow with a sense of purpose. Try to come up with a reason to get out of bed. You need to find a reason that you enjoy for you to get out of bed easily.

Stick to Your Sleep Schedule Strictly

When you’ve reached a workable bedtime and a consistent wake-up time, you should stick to that schedule and do not allow yourself to stray from it. It’s because even one late night can ruin the progress you have made.

Avoid Using Gadgets Before You Want to Sleep

Did you know that exposure to evening light can shift your body clock to a later schedule? Therefore, if you want to reset your internal clock, reducing household light and gadget light exposure before your bedtime is a simple and effective step. This includes light from your television, cellphone, tablet, and laptop. It is also great if you can keep your surroundings dim at night.

Do Not Eat or Exercise Too Close to Bedtime

Exercising can wake you up and eating before bedtime can give you heartburn, which both can prevent you from sleeping right away, therefore, you need to avoid these activities before your bedtime if you want to successfully reset your internal clock after a time change. Aside from that, you should also watch out for caffeine and nicotine, because both of them are stimulants.

Try to Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine

a woman sleeping in a comfy bed


Before your bedtime, you can take a warm bath and play some relaxing music. Setting the mood can help you sleep immediately. Make sure that your bed is comfortable to sleep in, the temperature is not too warm, and the room is dark. Having this kind of bedtime routine will give you the excitement to go to sleep.

Try Supplementing with Melatonin

Melatonin is commonly found in over-the-counter supplements and it is known to promote sleep. It can also be used as a helpful tool in restoring a natural sleep cycle. Supplementing with melatonin is especially helpful for people who work overnight shifts, changing time zones, or those who are adjusting to Daylight Saving Time.

Take melatonin supplements about 30 minutes before your intended bedtime to help you train your body to a regular circadian rhythm. But before trying this strategy, it’s important to check with your doctor first because it can have side effects for some people and it can also contradict other medicines.

Try to Practice Bright-Light Therapy

Bright-light therapy is a timed exposure to bright light in the morning. There are over-the-counter devices you can use for shifting your circadian rhythm. However, if you’re going to try this therapy, you need to make sure that you don’t have any eye disease. If you’re a healthy person with good vision, then you can use devices for seasonal affective disorder. It’s more effective to use the light as close to your wake up time as possible.

Visit a Doctor

If the tips above don’t work for you and your sleep schedule is still interfering with your job or other responsibilities, then it’s better to tell your doctor. It’s because sleep affects our functioning, our health in the present time, and as well as our long-term health. If you do not get enough sleep chronically, it can do a lot of damage to your health, that’s why consulting to a doctor who expertise in sleep can help.

The amount of time it will take to reset your internal clock depends on what’s causing you to be off. If you had a long trip to a different time zone, it may take a couple of weeks for you to adjust. Resetting the internal clock and changing sleep schedule is not easy, but with proper discipline, it is very achievable. If you will be traveling to a different time zone soon, you might also want to check out our post on How to Minimize the Effects of Jet Lag for tips.