How to Reset Your Body Clock


I confess: my body clock is broken. My ideal workday usually starts at 3:00 am and ends three hours later – which means that I have the rest of the morning to do chores and run errands. Now, because I’ve spent the entire weekend reading until late in the afternoons, I wake up at 4:00 pm, which means that most establishments close an hour later, and the sun will set soon – leaving me unable to go out and perform errands. Plus, by the time 3:00am comes, I am already too tired to work.

Not an unusual predicament for web workers. Especially since we own our time. Although we don’t necessarily have a boss who prefers that we start at 9:00 am, waking up late in the afternoons isn’t ideal either.

So how can we fix a broken body clock?

Wake up at your regular time anyway. Easier said than done, especially if you turn in later that usual – but it works. Waking up at the same time everyday can help avoid the a difference between your body clock and your schedule. This should also be followed by sleeping at your usual time.

It may take a couple of days for you to be 100% back to normal if you just use this technique, so if you need immediate change you can try the other tips below.

Get as much light as possible. When you wake up at the right time, you should get as much bright light as you can. This tells your body that it’s time to wake up. A sensor in your eye tells your brain that it’s already daylight, and this resets your biological clock.

If the sun is already up, you can take a short walk outside or look through the window after you wake up. If you’re like me and you prefer to get up before the sun rises, staying in a well-lit room or working near a bright lamp can also do the trick.

Let caffeine and naps work hand in hand. If you’ve messed up your body clock and feel sleepy in the middle of your workday, drinking coffee and taking a nap may help. According to Dr. Mark Rosekind of Alertness Solutions, drinking a cup of coffee before a short nap (less than 45 minutes) can help you wake up much faster and won’t make you feel groggy.

Check with your doctor. There are many factors that cause changes in the body clock, including medication, travel, heredity, and even daylight saving time. If you can’t pinpoint the reasons behind your strange sleep patters and the above tips don’t work for you, consulting a doctor might get you the answers that you need.

Sleeping and waking up at any time may sound like a dream life for cubicle-dwellers, but we web workers know that having unpredictable sleep patterns can be impractical and unproductive. Hopefully, by applying these tips, I won’t find myself waking up at 4:30 pm tomorrow.

What’s your ideal schedule like? Do you wake up at the same time every morning? How does web work affect your body clock?


Tim Bits

I think my body is WAY out of whack. I didn’t get a wink of sleep last night, and basically pulled an all-nighter Friday night at a friend’s house and woke up sometime in the afternoon Saturday. Since then, I’ve been awake at night and sleeping during the day. I’m going to try staying awake all day and going to bed when I normally do. Hopefully tomorrow my body will be back to what it was before I messed it up. But thanks for the tips, I shall keep them in mind, Tim Bitz


You would be so lucky for it to “take a couple of days” to rectify the problem. I found myself in this situation and it took months not days. 18 months in fact.

Whatever else you do you MUST get outside for a walk at 7am to let the light get into your eyes. Nothing else will do it.

Secondly you must eat regular meals. Eating regular meals is critical in resetting your body clock.

Going to sleep – allow yourself a certain number of regular hours and sleep those hours in bed. Take a melatonin tablet and also Insomin-X on the market in Australia is a good herbal remedy. No other herbal remedies have worked for me and neither has stillnox etc. prescription stuff.

COMBINE light into your eyes 7am for 20 mins with 3 regular meals a day at regular times and go to bed at the same time each night.

Get caffeine out of your system, choose something else. It’s taken me 18 months to get rid of caffeine and it certainly helps with sleep.

The regularity of light, meals and a definite sleeping time set aside will do it … eventually.

Best of luck. I feel great now …

John Hudson

I dont know how to explain it I dont feel sleepy at all during the night. I also find it hard to sleep during the day. When I do fall asleep I sleep past my normal hours. When I wake up, I am still exhausted and want to fall right back to sleep. I know my biological is all messed up. I am worried. Lately, my nights have been sleepless and I find myself not getting as tired as much during the day. I am worried that if it is possibly my biological clock is at risk of breaking. What I am asking is, how do I fix this so I can go back to a normal six to eight hour sleep rotation?


I used to go to sleep at normal hours despite my mild depression in the past, but quite recently 1-2 years ago I’ve had extreme anxiety, stress and severe depression which has only lead my sleep habits downhill. I now usually go to bed at 4 AM and wake up some time round 1 or 2 PM, and no matter how hard I try it won’t be cured. I think it’s a complex mixture of light, depression, anxiety, excess cortisol, excess adrenaline and other excess hormones.

~But oh well I like the darkness I guess~


HELP!!! I am in the hospitality industry, so i am used to working late nights then waking up in the afternoon. I am on holidays at the moment and wont go back to work for about another month. I have found myself that i cant go to bed till 3 am! how can i reset my body clock to that of a normal person?



I’m interested in :
. eating regular meals in helping to reset the body clock
. early morning exercise starting at 7am for 20 mins without fail for 3 weeks letting light into the eyes
. fact there are two sleep periods at night and if you miss the first then know when the second sleep phase will come
. use of melatonin .. I have been told it doesn’t work
. the single amino acid which apparently if lacking can cause disturbances to the circadian cycle
Anyone care to discuss these specifically?

Celine Roque

Rich – are you referring to what I read on the weekends that keep me up all night? I read all sorts of things, mostly fiction and almost anything I can get my hands on. But the instance I was referring to, I was reading “Art and Lies” by Jeanette Winterson.


No clock tips. But I’d like to know what your reading? :o)


I take medication that makes me soooooooooo sleepy! So, I have (under my doctor’s supervision) tinkered with the times I take my medicine to ensure that I can now get sleep during normal times (i.e. night time) rather than all day!


I have Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome, but didn’t know it was a medical condition until recently. I’ve spent years trying to work “normally” with a body that’s on a 4PM-8AM schedule. Although I kept beating myself up for not being able to reset my sleep schedule, I eventually became a freelancer working from home, one of the most common ways of accommodating DSPS.

You can’t imagine the relief I felt when I learned that it was a medical issue, not my fault, and that it has a name. Though there is medication that can help, I accept and embrace my DSPS and have found that it works perfectly to live 4PM-8AM; I sleep when others work, and work when others sleep, and the evening is free for social activities and the like.

My advice is, if you’ve been struggling with a sleep schedule that doesn’t match your time zone for months or years, and nothing you try (including sedatives) helps you reset it, see your doctor and ask about a sleep disorder. They’re not the best publicized of conditions, so you may want to do a little research and take it with you. The peace of mind that comes from learning you’re not alone and it isn’t the result of personal weakness is indescribably liberating.

Tal Ater

I’ve been suffering from a similar condition called Non-24-hour sleep-wake syndrome, which basically meant I was going to sleep each day a couple of hours later then the day before, causing my days to shift wildly between being up at 4am one weeks and then at 4pm the next one.

What Celine is describing in this article is more like Delayed sleep phase syndrome, a similar but different condition.

I was lucky to be diagnosed by Dr. Yaron Dagan (the same Dr. Dagan who wrote half the articles referenced on the DSPS page on Wikipedia), and prescribed Melatonin which I now take daily and has really saved me from a life of bad sleep, and constant jetlag like tiredness.

If you are suffering from something like this for more than a few months, and can’t fix it… It may be more than a symptom of your web working life style… Get it checked by a good sleep doctor (there’s very little awareness of these syndromes in the general MD community).

If anyone has any questions, I’d love to help. This thing was ruining my life, and a simple treatment did miracles to me.

Emily Williams

@Mark is right, when traveling it really helps to plan ahead and try to start living in the new time zone as soon as you get on the plane.

I’m going to add another recommendation of how to get your body clock regular: get a puppy! Now that I get up at 7:30 every morning for the dog, by 8:30 on weekends I’m waking up without an alarm clock. And if I decide to sleep in, someone else comes running into the bedroom to lick my face – if that doesn’t wake you up on time I don’t know what will!


There was an interesting article I found via Reddit about using food to deal with jet-lag. The same principle should apply… Apparently we have a secondary food clock that can override our primary (daylight-based) clock. To trigger this, plan on having breakfast at the regular time in your new (or existing, in this case?) timezone and then don’t eat for 16 hours before that breakfast. It worked for me on a recent trip!


I’ve had the issue a revolving sleep schedule where my body seems to think that a day lasts 25 hours and every day I go to sleep later and later. I’ve tried for a while to fix it but still have trouble with it, these tips sound good though and I’ll have to try them.

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