How to reset your body clock in three days

Get yourself back on form over the long weekend

Woman stretching and smiling in bed
(Image credit: Getty)

How are you feeling? Well rested, got the full eight hours of sleep, raring to go? According to The Sleep Council says that 40% of the UK public suffers from sleep issues, so if you answered 'yes', you're one of the lucky ones.

It's not all lost though – MattressNextDay has consulted its sleep experts, and reckons it has come up with a failsafe guide to resetting your body clock, and all it takes is three days (and nights). That means, assuming you have nothing more exciting planned for your bank holiday break, you can do it this long weekend, ready to bounce gleefully, full of energy and eye bag-free, into work on Tuesday morning. It looks like this:

Saturday: day #1

Wake up: 10am

Go to bed: 11pm

Day one of your reset calendar and you can have a lie in! Don't lounge about all day though – the plan includes a 30-minute workout. Dehydration can make you feel lethargic, so make sure you drink plenty of water too – at least two litres. Although, crucially, not so close to bedtime that you have to get up to wee in the middle of the night.

Throughout your reset period, you'll need to pay attention to the light you're exposed to, as this can have a significant impact on your internal clock. The guide suggests dimming your bedroom lights in the afternoon, so by bedtime it's virtually black. Other sources suggest that limiting light in the two hours before bed is enough.

If that sounds a bit much, you could consider a wakeup lamp, which will gradually brighten or dim to mimic the sunrise and sunset, and is meant to promote a more natural sleep routine. 

If you struggle to drop off, try this hack: list random items in your head. They should be easy to visualise but not directly related to one another (for example, potatoes, Tarzan, a violin). The idea is it'll tire your brain out and also distract you from other issues that would otherwise occupy your mind. Our guide to how to fall asleep quickly includes some more techniques to try, if that one doesn't work for you. 

water being poured into a glass

(Image credit: Brendan Church on Unsplash)

Sunday: day #2

Wake up: 8am

Go to bed: 11pm

No lie in for you today – as soon as your alarm goes off at 8am, you need to open the curtains and let the sunlight in. This has the effect of suppressing melatonin production, which in turn makes you feel more awake. Boost that feeling further by heading for a walk outside, for a dose of vitamin D (fingers crossed it's not overcast).

If you fancy an afternoon snooze, you're allowed, but you should only nap for for 10-20 minutes. Doze for longer than 30 minutes and you risk feeling groggier than before you dropped off. 

More sad news for your Bank Holiday celebrations at this point; alcohol is disruptive to sleep, so limit consumption to one unit. 

Man asleep in bed

(Image credit: Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels)

Monday: day #3

Wake up: 6-7am (or whenever you usually would for work)

Go to bed: 10pm

Diet can have a big impact on your sleep quality. This guide suggests kicking the day off with a balanced breakfast that includes protein and healthy fats (for example from avocado, or nuts and seeds) to boost energy in the morning. If you're a coffee or tea drinker, now's the time for that too. You want to avoid caffeine in the 5-7 hours before bedtime, and limit it to a maximum of two cups a day, to avoid this derailing your sleep routine.

Feeling stressed about the imminent return to work? That, unsurprisingly, isn't great news for your sleep quality: higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol will make you feel more awake. Calm yourself down with a soothing bedtime routine. Try some breathing exercises, take a hot bath, stretch out or do some yoga. All these things can help you relax.

When it's time for your final night of the plan, if you're still struggling to drop off, you could try listening to some pink noise (such as rainfall sounds) or white noise at bedtime. Predictable sounds such as these help block out distracting background noises and can help lull you to sleep (our guide to the best sleep headphones can help you out with a gadget for personalised bedtime soundtracks). 

For more info, head to the full guide at MattressNextDay.

Ruth Hamilton

Ruth is a lifestyle journalist specialising in sleep and wellbeing. She has tested more mattresses than her small flat can handle and will talk at length about them to anyone who shows even a passing interest, and has had to implement a one-in-one-out pillow policy for fear of getting smothered in the night. As well as following all the industry trends and advancements in the mattress and bedding world, she regularly speaks to certified experts to delve into the science behind a great night's sleep, and offer you advice to help you get there. She's currently Sleep Editor on Tom's Guide and TechRadar, and prior to that ran the Outdoors and Wellness channels on T3 (now covered by Matt Kollat and Beth Girdler-Maslen respectively).