Do you remember arguing with your parents about bedtime when you were a kid? We never appreciate the luxury of sleep until we’re older!
As an adult, you probably don’t have a set ‘bedtime’. Most of us only have a vague idea of what our bedtime is, although we often have a much stricter idea about when we need to wake up. Whilst bedtime is often flexible, our waking times are usually determined by other external commitments - the daily 9 to 5, shift work, waking up with kids, taking the dog out for a walk - there’s a lot of things that might dictate when we start our day. Your morning routine is probably set in stone, but there’s a good chance you haven’t given your bedtime much serious thought since you were much younger - but it might be time to change that.
Setting a bedtime can be one of the best things you can do to improve not only the amount of time you spend asleep at night, but how do you work out when you should be going to bed? Our perfect bedtimes change as we get older and vary based on when we get up.
If you need help calculating when you should be going to sleep, read our tips below.
There are two components to any good night’s sleep, quality and quantity. Your main sleep goals should firstly be to ensure that you are giving yourself enough time to sleep, and secondly, that you are enjoying quality rest. There’s no point spending 10 hours in bed if it’s only for a few hours of restless, uncomfortable sleep. Optimising when you go to bed can help you to maximise sleep efficiency, so you’re spending less time lying awake on your mattress and more time resting. Finding the perfect bedtime to make the most of the time you spend in bed is all about understanding your sleep wake cycle and maintaining a healthy circadian rhythm. Here’s what you need to do to start every day feeling rested and refreshed:
To find your perfect bedtime, you’ll need to do some simple calculations. Here’s what you need to know:
The average sleep cycle is 90 minutes and during that time we move through 4 stages of sleep; the first four stages make up non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep and the fifth stage is rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep. During NREM sleep, we go from light sleep in stage 1 to very deep stage 4 sleep. When someone reaches deep sleep, it can be very difficult to wake them. REM sleep is when we do most of our dreaming. Your average night of sleep will include 5 full 90 minutes sleep cycles, or around 7.5 hours of sleep.
To find your bedtime, you should start with your wake time and work your way back by 7.5 hours to find your bedtime.
You should also try to take your natural circadian rhythm into account. As we get older, we tend to wake up earlier. If it’s possible for your schedule, adjusting your bedtime to be earlier and waking up earlier in the morning might help to improve your sleep quality. If you’ve got a teenager at home, you should also take into account that many of them will experience a sleep phase delay during puberty - this causes them to feel sleepy much later at night and makes it more difficult for them to wake up in the morning. Kids also need more sleep than we do, so keep this in mind when calculating bedtime for the younger members of your household.
Once you’ve set a bedtime, keep in mind that everyone is different. Your bedtime may need some adjustments to fit in with your needs. Try your new bedtime for about a week and adjust as you go. Ideally, you should be waking up naturally a few minutes before your alarm each day. If you’re waking up a long time before your alarm, or struggling to wake up when it goes off, it’s a sign there’s something not quite right with your routine.
A lot of us have a tendency to think that quantity is the same as quality when it comes to sleep, but a lot of sleep isn’t always necessarily a good thing. Good quality sleep requires sustaining rest at all four sleep stages, so 10 hours of light napping aren’t the same as a few hours of deep sleep. Healthy sleep is much more than just time spent in bed. If you want to make the most out of bedtime, you’ll want to focus on sleep efficiency, which is basically the amount of time you spend in bed versus how long you actually spend asleep. Think about how long it takes you every night to fall asleep and how much you wake up throughout the night. Those who take a long time to fall asleep and who experience frequent periods of wakefulness throughout the night are said to be less sleep efficient. Increasing your sleep efficiency can significantly improve how rested you feel every morning. If you’re finding that you're lying awake at night, then it could be a sign you’re heading to bed too early, or it might also be a signal that your sleep environment is not properly optimised for restful sleep. If your bedroom is too light, noisy or distracting, it could be interfering with how well you’re sleeping. Make sure your bedroom is set up to promote a peaceful night’s sleep.
Looking for more tips on how to wake up feeling rested and refreshed? Read our top 10 tips on how to turn yourself into a morning person, or speak to the experts at Bedshed about setting up your bedroom for the ultimate night’s sleep!
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