Let's say Julia wants to wake up earlier.

Julia wants to wake up three hours earlier to be alert at a job interview. A few days before, she enters her sleep schedule then follows the plan below. On the day of the interview she wakes up alert and refreshed rather than tired and groggy.


Day 1   
 20:00–23:00 Avoid light
 23:00–09:00 Sleep
Day 2   
 09:00–12:00 Seek light
 19:00–22:00 Avoid light
 22:00–08:00 Sleep
Day 3   
 08:00–11:00 Seek light
 18:00–21:00 Avoid light
 21:00–07:00 Sleep
Day 4   
 07:00–10:00 Seek light

If you start to drift back to your later schedule, avoid light for two hours before bed and seek light for two hours after waking.


Avoid light
Avoid as much light as convenient and safe. If sleeping, keep the room dark by closing the curtains (ideally blackout curtains) or wear a sleep mask. If awake, wear dark sunglasses if not driving, or blue-blocker sunglasses if driving. Also wear sunglasses while viewing bright screens on computers and phones.
Sleep is preferable during this period or earlier. Continue to avoid light during this time.
Seek light
Get as much light as possible. Spend time outdoors in daylight (even if it's cloudy) or near a bright window. If it's dark out, seek bright artificial light, preferably from a portable light box. Intermittent light is okay. Light near the beginning of the three-hour window in the plan is most important.


Nap early
If you need to, nap earlier in the day rather than later.
In bed, only sleep and have sex
Avoid doing other activities (such as using a computer).
Exercise early
Exercise in the morning or afternoon rather than in the evening.
Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol at night
These will keep you awake or reduce your sleep quality.

For more tips, see the National Sleep Foundation.

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