Getting enough sleep is one of the best health boosts you can give yourself.
Do you wake up tired or can’t get started in the morning? You probably suffer from sleep deprivation.
21% of the Americans get less than 5 hours of sleep. Many people try to get away with an average of about 6 hours.
The recommended amount of sleep is between 7 and 9 hours for an average adult and even more for children.
Why do we sleep
It seems that all we do is rest our body and mind but there is more going on in our sleep. We are very active while sleeping. Our body needs time to restore from a busy day and our mind is actively moving memories and new found knowledge from a short term memory to a long term memory. This process is called consolidation. Physically our body with all organs and muscles in it use the sleep period to restore and rejuvenate, repair tissue, grow muscles and let our hormones balance. It also keeps your cardiovascular system and infection fighting abilities in better shape.
If we need about 7 – 9 hours of sleep we need to find a way to do that.
It is just not easy to figure out the best time to call it a day and go to bed. It all depends on your personal sleep cycle also called the circadian rhythm.
This is your internal body clock that regulates your sleep and wake cycle.
Our sleep cycle is on average 90 minutes. In these ninety minutes we go through several stages of sleep. From light to very deep and also one called REM rapid eye movement.
Waking up in the wrong step of the cycle makes it that you do not feel like getting up in the morning. Even if you had enough hours of sleep.
What time to go to bed
If we just calculate the 90 minutes sleep cycle we can find the best time to go to bed at night.
5 complete sleep cycles is 5 x 9 = 450 minutes of sleep. This is 7.5 hours.
Now we know how the sleep cycle work and that we can get started with 7.5 hours all we need to do is know the time we have to get up and count back 7.5 hours.
If you for example need to get up at 6.30 your sleep time should be 11 o’clock.
Most people toss and turn a while before falling asleep but don’t worry about it unless you do that for more than 30 minutes. Than try to find a better time to go to bed.
Keep track of this new rhythm
Now instead of seeing how many hours you slept write down every morning how you think you slept on a scale of 1 – 10. From 1 being very bad and 10 being a great night sleep.
After a week or so you can have a look at your new track record and see if it needs adjustment.
In most cases you will see that the quality of sleep will improve.
If you wake up feeling fresh and just before your alarm goes off you are in your personal circadian rhythm.
If you wake up earlier you might need less sleep.
If you are still tired after a 7,5 hour cycle of sleep you maybe need to go to bed on a different time or find other factors that affect the way you fall asleep and stay asleep.
Tips for falling asleep
Some things are proven to keep you awake if you do them before going to bed. Try to avoid them and find the ones you personally need to avoid.
- No food at least an hour before bed time
- No shower shortly before going to bed
- No TV, Phone, Table or laptop in the bedroom
- Not too much physical activity the last hour
- Not too cold or too hot in the bed room
- Adjust your lightning in the bedroom
You can probably think of all the things you need or do not need to be relaxed when it is time to go to bed. Maybe read a book in bed or play some soft music. You know what is best for you.
Just try to relax and not relive your day and think about the next day. Do not worry about how much sleep you will get and try this for a week to see if it works for you like it worked for me.
For a long time I had to get up at 5.30 every week day and found that if I went to bed between 9.30 and 10 I felt rested in the morning.
national sleep foundation
Dr Oz the good life April “17