What Time Should I Go to Bed?
If your sleep cycle has ever been messed with, for whatever reason, you know how difficult it can become to reorient your sleep schedule for improved sleep quality and overall better health. Whether you’re a student who will go to bed only after your 20-page assignment has been completed and submitted before its due date or a night shift worker, you might find yourself wondering: what’s the optimal way to get a good night’s sleep? How many hours do you need? And what is the best time to go to sleep – and wake up?
While the answer may technically “depend” on your sleep patterns, your lifestyle, health conditions, and a variety of other factors, research suggests that the tried and true time to hit the hay is 10 pm. This blog post will examine what makes good sleep hygiene and why “10 pm” is the magical number for falling asleep.
The importance of a bedtime and wake up time for your mental and physical health.
Unfortunately, the reality of our lifestyles now is that a consistent bedtime is hard to come by. Too many of us suffer from daytime sleepiness due to irregular sleep and the inability to foster a good bedroom environment to promote good sleep habits. For many, we wake up early to head to our 9-5 jobs, work tirelessly through the day, and socialise in the evening – sometimes at the expense of our sleep health. A few days of off sleep won’t do any harm, but continuously getting too little sleep can increase our chances of developing high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes, obesity, and more.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults get between 7-9 hours of sleep each night. This number is larger for children, teenagers, and babies, and larger for seniors. Sleep deprivation has become a population health crisis.
By implementing a bedtime and a wake up time, we can manage our sleep duration better. There’s even scientific evidence to suggest that going to bed at 10 pm and waking up between 5 am-7 am is optimal, but everyone’s circumstances are different and these numbers aren’t magic. Here’s the truth about sleep timing and tips for improving your sleep schedule.
How important is sleep timing?
While 10 pm was indicated as being an average time for most adults to go to sleep in order to reap the benefits of their recommended 7-9 hours of sleep duration, it’s not a magic number and it doesn’t apply to everyone. There are always those who work night shifts, those who suffer from sleep disorders, and those with young children.
Is timing important? Well, yes – as long as it’s consistent. See, your sleep wake cycle doesn’t have to adhere to the 10 pm-5/7 am cycle so much as it should be roughly the same each day, barring the occasional jetlag, late night out with friends or coworkers, etc.
It’s suggested that timing for all your biological functions can help keep you consistent, whether that’s when you eat each day, when you sleep, when you exercise, and more. It doesn’t matter specifically at what time you go to bed, just so long as you’re adhering to the same bedtime and wake up time each day to get enough sleep.
How many hours of sleep do I need?
While the exact range for the average person is between 7-9 hours each night, different people may work within that range differently. For example, your spouse might need eight hours of sleep each night to feel their best self, but you do fine off of seven. This doesn’t mean your spouse is “lazier” or that they just need to train themselves to sleep off less – it’s just that our bodies all function uniquely. How many sleep cycles do we experience during a 7-9 hour range?
Usually, on an average night, one might cycle through the various sleep stages 5-6 times. That includes REM sleep, and the four non-REM stages of light sleep. REM sleep is a sleep stage where the eye moves rapidly under the lid.
During this stage, you might dream. Deep sleep, light sleep, slow wave sleep, and REM sleep are all imperative to getting a good night’s sleep. While they all have their benefits, you’ll first need to determine when to go to bed in order to put yourself in a good position to get that quality of sleep.
Remember that deep sleep is generally only possible with an optimal sleep environment. If the room is bright, you have a noisy partner, and you’ve eaten too close to when you would normally fall asleep, deep sleep can be hard to come by. It all comes with setting yourself up for success.
Tips for going to bed at the same time each night
Adhering to a sleep schedule isn’t always easy. If you’ve been getting less sleep lately, or have experienced sleep change due to variations in your life, it might be time to look into your sleep disruption and take a crack at implementing a strict bedtime and wake up time to see how that supports your energy levels through the day. The right bedding can make all the difference too.
Here are some tips for how to go to bed at the same time each night:
- If you want to feel refreshed, manage your bedroom environment. Shut your blinds, turn on some ambient music, and get the room temperature just right. Getting the sleep you need is a lot easier when your environment supports optimal rest.
- If you find it difficult to go to bed earlier, try some gentle exercise in the morning or stretching before you go to bed. Young adults tend to be more “night owlish” than the rest of the population, especially due to socialising that often happens in the evening towards later at night.
- Don’t eat too close to bedtime. Keep your eating on a schedule, if possible, similar to your waking and nightly schedule. Try to have your last big meal at least 3 hours before you decide to hit the hay.
- Individuals who use their blue light devices in bed or too close to bed are at an increased risk of suffering from sleep disruption. Charge your phone in another room and opt for a book or a chat with a partner before bed.
- There is such a thing as getting too much sleep. Use an alarm to establish when you want to wake up, and make sure your room is set up to let in natural light. Eventually, after a few weeks of following this schedule, you might be able to wake up without an alarm.
- Address any pre-existing health conditions with a doctor, as these could also impact your sleep quality.
- If none of these tips works for you, or if you suffer from a condition that prevents you from getting adequate sleep at night, consult a healthcare professional. These are just tips and should not be received as professional medical advice.
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