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How do I reset my body clock?

What is a body clock?

A body clock, also known as a circadian rhythm, is a natural internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle and repeats roughly every 24 hours. It’s influenced by signals from the environment like sunlight and darkness. A properly aligned body clock will make you feel alert and awake during the day, and tired at night.

Why would I need to reset my body clock?

There are several reasons you may want to reset your body clock:

  • Jet lag – Frequent travel across time zones can throw off your natural circadian rhythms.
  • Shift work – Working night or rotating shifts can lead to chronic misalignment between your body clock and the day/night cycle.
  • Delayed sleep phase – You have difficulty falling asleep at night and struggle to wake in the mornings.
  • Advanced sleep phase – You tend to feel very sleepy in the early evening and wake up very early.
  • Insomnia – An inconsistent sleep schedule can make it hard to fall or stay asleep.
  • General sleep problems – Resetting your body clock may improve sleep quality and duration.

Resetting your body clock can help realign your sleep-wake cycle and remedy circadian rhythm disorders.

How can I reset my body clock?

Here are some methods to help reset your body’s natural circadian rhythms:

Use light exposure

Sunlight and darkness are the most influential signals for your body clock. strategic light exposure can shift your sleep-wake cycle earlier or later.

  • Let in bright light early – Open blinds and curtains first thing in the morning. Spend time outside. This advances your clock.
  • Limit light before bed – Dim indoor lights a few hours before bedtime. Avoid screens. Wear sunglasses outside at dusk. This delays your clock.
  • Use a light therapy box – Sit in front of a light box first thing in the morning. This mimics sunlight to shift your clock earlier.

Keep a consistent sleep schedule

Sticking to fixed, regular sleep and wake times will reinforce your body’s circadian rhythms.

  • Wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends and days off.
  • Follow a nightly bedtime routine so your body expects sleep at about the same time.
  • Limit daytime naps to 30 minutes in the early afternoon.
  • Avoid sleeping in late to make up for lost sleep, which will throw off your schedule.

Time meals and exercise

Eating and physical activity can help anchor your body clock’s sleep-wake cycle.

  • Eat bigger meals earlier in the day, and avoid heavy late-night snacks.
  • Exercise regularly, preferably in the mornings or early afternoons.
  • Avoid strenuous workouts within 2-3 hours before bedtime.

Change your sleep environment

Make sure your bedroom is optimized for better sleep.

  • Use comfortable bedding and keep the room cool, dark and quiet.
  • Remove electronic devices and screens that emit blue light.
  • Consider using blackout curtains, a white noise machine, earplugs or an eye mask.
  • Reserve your bed for sleep and sex to associate the space with rest.

Avoid caffeine, alcohol and nicotine

These common stimulants and depressants can disrupt your sleep-wake cycles.

  • Stop caffeine intake by early-mid afternoon.
  • Limit alcohol before bed, as it can fragment sleep.
  • Quit smoking, as nicotine is a stimulant.

Relax with sleep-promoting activities

Calming pre-bedtime rituals can ease the transition between wakefulness and drowsiness.

  • Take a warm bath or shower to trigger a drop in body temperature before bed.
  • Practice meditation, deep breathing exercises and progressive muscle relaxation.
  • Listen to soothing music or read a book.
  • Stick to quiet, low-light activities.

Ask your doctor about melatonin

Melatonin is a natural hormone that induces sleepiness and is regulated by the body clock. Your doctor may recommend taking a melatonin supplement to help reset your circadian rhythms. Carefully follow dosage and timing instructions.

Consider chronotherapy for jet lag

Chronotherapy gradually shifts your sleep time later or earlier by 1-2 hours daily until your body clock adjusts to the new time zone. It may be helpful for frequent travelers.

When should I seek medical advice?

Consult your doctor if self-help measures don’t seem to reset your body clock, especially if you have:

  • Disrupted sleep for more than 3 months
  • Excessive daytime fatigue and sleepiness
  • Mood problems like irritability or depression
  • Difficulty performing daily responsibilities

Your doctor can determine if you have an underlying sleep disorder and may recommend cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) or other targeted treatments.


Resetting your body clock is possible using strategic adjustments to your exposure to light, sleep-wake schedule, environment, diet, and activities. With consistency and smart lifestyle changes, you can realign your natural circadian rhythms and enjoy better sleep. But seek medical advice if sleep problems persist despite your best efforts.

Method How It Helps
Light exposure Sunlight and darkness strongly influence circadian rhythms
Fixed sleep schedule Reinforces the body’s sleep-wake cycle
Scheduled meals & exercise Anchors the circadian cycle
Sleep environment Optimizes the bedroom for better sleep
Avoid stimulants Caffeine, alcohol and nicotine disrupt sleep cycles
Relaxing rituals Eases the transition between wakefulness and sleep
Melatonin Hormone that regulates sleep and body clock
Chronotherapy Gradually shifts sleep time to adjust to new time zone