Whats the best time to go to sleep?
“When should I go to bed?” “What’s the best time to go to bed?”. If you’re asking these questions, you’ve come to the right place. Here, we break down why the “perfect bedtime” isn’t the same for everyone and explain step by step how you can work out when you should go to bed.
Before we get started with the step by step, it’s important to understand some sleep basics.
In 2017, the Nobel Prize for Medicine was awarded to three Americans for their understanding of the biological clock, or ”circadian clock”. This biological clock plays a major role in sleep. It regulates how naturally awake we are throughout the day. With sleep pressure, it is one of the two biological mechanisms responsible for the desire to go to sleep in the evening. Unfortunately, respect for these mechanisms is not always enough. For many people, additional factors (stress, overwork, depression, etc.) can delay or disturb sleep and cause insomnia.
Numerous biological settings, such as body temperature, heart rate or secretion of the main sleep hormones (cortisol and melatonin), follow natural 24-hour cycles.
This is no coincidence: our body is genetically programmed to follow a rhythm of approximately 24 hours. This is called the “circadian clock” or “biological clock”, determined by a set of genes called “period genes”. It also regulates sleep.
Sleep needs change from one person to the next. Some people wake up easily in the morning, others are more energetic at the end of the day. This is known as a chronotype, which is simply put, your body’s internal clock:
Night owls or ‘evening’ people. For them, the start of the day can be pretty difficult and they feel more and more on form as the day continues. They are at the most active and productive around the end of the day.
Early-birds. They have no trouble at all to get out of bed in the morning. Even if it’s very early, they’re up and ready to start the day. But as soon as evening rolls around they start to feel sleepy.
Full of energy. Morning or evening, some people are productive and energetic.
Lethargic. Some people are exhausted when they wake up and tired by the start of the evening.
Mastering your synchronizers
As they influence our circadian clock, these synchronizers (regular meals, exposure to light, etc.) allow us to adjust to the social time (24 hours). And more importantly, they follow the coherent sleep/awake pattern of the environment and are thus conducive to sleep.
On the other hand, if these same synchronizers are used incorrectly, they can disrupt our circadian clock, and disturb our sleep. This is the case with light. Synonymous with “day” for the body, it inhibits the secretion of melatonin, one of the main sleep hormones. Exposing oneself to a screen before sleep can cause difficulties when falling asleep.
It is easy to go wrong when mastering synchronizers. Moreover, most people aren’t aware of them all or don’t know how to manage them. Dreem 2 gives you personalized advice that lets you control your synchronizers and change lifestyle habits to improve your sleep.
Sleep is divided into several sleep cycles which last around 90 minutes each. Without even realising, you go through between 4 and 5 cycles a night. The end of a cycle is marked by a phase of light sleep and it is in these moments that it’s easier to wake up.
if you’re wondering “when should I go to bed?”, you need to start by determining how much sleep you need. And remember this need changes from one person to the next. Then and only then, you can calculate the time you should go to bed, taking how long it takes you to fall asleep into account.
Bedtime = wake up time – (hours of sleep + falling asleep)
Let’s say that your alarm goes off at 7 am. You know that you need 7.5 hours of sleep (about 5 sleep cycles). It takes you around 19 minutes to fall asleep. So you need to go to bed around 11.15 pm.
Alternatively, you can go off to bed as soon as you start to feel the first signs of tiredness: yawning, a stiff neck, itchy eyes, etc.
It’s important to remember that the length of your sleep is different from sleep quality. A 10-hour long night in bad conditions (temperature, noise etc..) will be less restorative than a shorter night spent in better conditions.
The best thing you can do for restorative sleep is to take care of the quality of your sleep and get into the habit of a regular bedtime.