Getting enough sleep in an urban setting is a challenge. The working class can attest to that. More difficult to that narrative is when you are a shift worker. Meaning, you go to work at different times. With that kind of work, you get to sleep at different times too. According to science, an average human should get up to 7 hours of sleep to get refreshed and ready for the activities the next morning. There are times when you sleep more soundly other than any other time. With this being said, is there a best time to sleep? If yes, what time should I go to bed?
Best Time to Sleep
To answer the question above, yes, there is a good time to sleep. The best time to go to sleep really depends on the body clock of a person. The body clock is dictated by genetics, lifestyle, and the kind of environment you are in.
Nighttime vs Daytime
In general, there are two kinds of people, the morning and night person. Our brain’s hypothalamus is the one who determines whether you are a night or morning person. Our hypothalamus keeps the internal clock of our body running. The light and dark times cycle are important to the circadian (A circadian rhythm is a biological process that has an entrainable oscillation for 24 hours) rhythms of our body. If humans do not have an inkling of whether it is day and night, it might be difficult for them to sleep.
Light is important in signaling a human of its biological clock. It is a determinant of how a human might be able to be in sync with his or her environment. So, does this mean that we should all go to bed in the evening and wake up in the morning? No. Though light and dark is indeed a determinant of our sleeping and waking time, the body clock still depends on a person’s lifestyle.
The Natural Rhythm of Sleep
Do not try to fight your natural rhythm of sleep. When you do not feel sleepy at all, do not try to sleep. Wait for the moment where you feel sleepy or in a mood to rest. Fighting your natural rhythm will break your circadian cycle. The circadian rhythm is a rhythm for a reason. Rhythm should be a religious habit for a long time. Breaking it every now and then might impose health risks. Insomnia researchers tell us that the best time to sleep is when you feel the sleepiest. Unfortunately, this does not translate to everyone. What about the time shift workers? Now that is a dilemma.
Still, the experts think that the best way to go to bed is everytime that you are sleepy. As long as you sleep around the same time every day and wake up around the same time then you are fulfilling your optimal sleeping time. Given that your sleeping cycle is not disrupted.
With regard to determining your best time to sleep, you have to set an alarm where you should wake up consistently. Restrict the hours of sleep you usually do at night and sleep 15 minutes before that restricted time. We should not only take note of the time and duration of our sleep we should also consider the quality of sleep we have.
We sleep around 90 minutes a cycle. In each 90 minute cycle, our sleep turns to deep to light sleep. When we have a lighter sleep we have usually do the rapid eye movement or REM sleep. The REM sleep stage usually happens at the last stage of sleep, close to morning. With that said, if you usually sleep very late at night or anytime which your body clock considers late, then you will only get the REM stage. Acquiring only the REM stage is not a good idea. It would restore little of the energy you need to go in a day.
Now that we know the best time to sleep, what are the other factors to help us sleep a little bit much better?
Avoid exercising right after you wake up or if it’s near your sleeping time
While it is quite diligent of you to work out right after you wake up, this might not be a good idea. Studies suggest that the best time to workout is in the middle of your day. Physical exercises are best done in the mid-peak of your day. During mid peak times, you would not be too tired or too perked up so exercising would be perfect. Having this balanced distribution of energy can help a lot in your circadian rhythm. It helps with insomnia and makes you sleep better.
Do not take caffeine and alcohol 6 hours before you sleep.
Caffeine and booze are two substances that do not go well together especially if you want a good night’s rest. Caffeine and alcohol are actually stimulants and may leave you in distraught and no sleep in the evening. Although alcohol is said to be a sleep inducer, two glasses a night might affect your sleeping pattern. This leaves you with a night of light sleep and little energy restoration in the morning. Which explains the reason why we feel almost always tired when we wake after a night drinking session. Try to switch to water before bed rather than a beer lullaby.
Avoid the Media Before Sleeping
Watching the television or browsing to your social media accounts will most likely not be good for you. Watching screens at night makes you preoccupied and you might end up not sleeping in your intended time. It does not only make you sleep late nut might also compromise the quality of your sleep because of the screens themselves. Screens are light emitting and messes up with our circadian rhythm.
Wake up in the Morning
Waking up in daylight perks you up than waking up at night. Daylight may be specially designed for us to wake up and start our day. Cavemen long ago would sleep in the dark and wake up in the morning. Maybe this has been always this way and how our body clock works.