This is a common problem for a lot of young guys, and one that I have experienced to probably the fullest extent possible. All through high school and the first two years of university I was constantly sleep deprived due to my messed up sleep schedule. Almost every night I would stay up to 2, 3, or 4 in the morning, usually due to browsing the internet.
At the very worst times, my sleep schedule was pretty much reversed and I was falling asleep at 9-10am and waking up at 6-7pm. Few things feel worse than hearing your roommates’ alarm clocks go off as you’re trying to fall asleep. At one point I started drinking Nyquil to make me fall asleep, and I drank it so much that I became completely immune. On weekend nights I would go out drinking and think “Well, at least this will help me get to sleep at a reasonable time (~3AM)”.
Having been through this (and now having a healthy sleep schedule) I know what works and what doesn’t. That being said, much of this advice is relative to how bad the problem is for you or how “deep” it runs. It might be just a few hours here or there, but other times it’s symptomatic of a life and lifestyle that needs a complete overhaul (like I said, I was about as bad as you can get).
Here are some actionable steps mixed in with more general advice.
Wake up at [X early time] for a set number of days
As with anything, consistency and repetition is key. Make it non-negotiable for yourself and wake up at an early time (I suggest 5am), and drive the non-negotiable aspect into your subconscious as you’re going to bed every night. Don’t miss a single day, and use drugs if you have to (see below).
Use melatonin and caffeine, and modafinil if you can get it/are comfortable with it. Drugs can be a powerful aid, and using them for a short time in order to achieve a goal is fine. As long as the drug use is “controlled” the entire time (meaning YOU are in control of it) then there is little risk.
Drink a ton of water as soon as you wake up
This is simple but it makes a massive difference. You are dehydrated when you wake up in the morning, so have a bottle of water next to your bed and chug the entire thing as soon as you wake up. It won’t be pleasant, but you’ll feel the effects within 5 minutes and this is by far the quickest and easiest thing to implement that makes the biggest difference.
Have something to wake up for
Back when my sleep schedule was really messed up, it was this breakfast that I could look forward to in the morning to motivate me get out of bed. Nowadays it’s my work and this blog. In fact, in Thailand I often didn’t sleep enough because every morning as soon as I woke up I would enthusiastically get out of bed to start my day. Sleeping in isn’t a problem if you’re legitimately looking forward to what you have to do each day. If this isn’t possible, then just find one small thing that you can look forward to/enjoy in the morning that will help you get up.
If there is interest then I will do more comprehensive posts on how to fix your sleep schedule. Like I said, I have experienced this to about as extreme as you can get (consistently waking up at 5am/5pm), and I also took extreme measures to get from one to the other. I could write quite a bit about this. A few potential topics are:
- The role of meditation in falling asleep at night
- How to stop thinking so much when you’re lying in bed
- Mindset and limiting beliefs that can prevent you from fixing your sleep schedule (I am a night owl, etc.)
- Some simple but effective daily habits that make it much easier to have a healthy sleep schedule
If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, then please leave a comment below.
Read next: How to Fall Asleep Fast in 5 Simple Steps