As it turns out, there is an ultimate time to go to bed and wake up.
Not only does a good night’s sleep help the body and brain function properly, but it can also help improve your learning, memory, decision-making – even your creativity.
Ensure you get the best sleep quality also plays an important role in your energy levels, lowers the risk of disease, and helps reduce stress.
An important part of your whole sleep-wake cycle is working out the right sleep routine to ensure you’ve got the best sleep and wake time.
The best time to go to sleep
We’d all love to be able to get into the perfect bedtime routine that allows us to have the best quality of sleep every night. But mums can’t always do this. We have kids, partners and often other responsibilities pulling on our time.
If you’re looking for an ideal time to go to bed, it helps to have good sleep hygiene and a good routine. A recent study has found that hitting the sack between 10 pm and 11 pm could lower the risk of developing heart disease.
But those who go to bed later or go to bed earlier than these times have a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
Experts found when compared to participants who fell asleep between 10 pm and 10.59 pm, those that went to bed between 11 pm to 11:59 pm were at a 12% greater risk of cardiovascular disease and a 24% increase for those falling asleep before 10 pm.
Meanwhile, there was a 25% higher risk of cardiovascular disease associated with those falling asleep at midnight or later.
Overall these sleep experts seem to suggest for you to feel your best the next day and enjoy the benefits of deep sleep, you need to get to bed between 10 pm and 11 pm.
Study author, Dr David Plans of the University of Exeter, said: “The body has a 24-hour internal clock, called circadian rhythm, that helps regulate physical and mental functioning.”
“While we cannot conclude causation from our study, the results suggest that early or late bedtimes may be more likely to disrupt the body clock, with adverse consequences for cardiovascular health.”
Researchers factored in the participant’s age, gender, sleep duration, sleep irregularity, being an early bird or a night owl, smoking status, body-mass index or obesity, diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol levels and socioeconomic status.
Overall, they found consistent sleeping at or after midnight increased the person’s risk of heart disease.
A wellness expert explains why sleep should be a priority.
“We know from years of research that we can do everything right, but if we’re not sleeping, we might as well be working at 50% capacity,” she says.
“Getting enough sleep should be integral to your health care routine, especially your mental health and well-being.”
“If we’re not sleeping well, our bodies and minds can’t repair and grow the new cells we need to stay healthy. Our cortisol levels, which are naturally higher during the day, would never have time to lower, thus keeping us in a permanent state of stress.”
Identifying that a lack of sleep is impacting you and your daily routine is important so that it can be addressed to rectify those problems. A good night’s sleep positively impacts mental and physical health.
Going out for regular walks in the sunshine when UV rays are low, eating a well-balanced diet, and reducing alcohol and caffeine can all play a role in getting a good night’s sleep.
Preparation for sleep
Some pre-bedtime actions you can take to assist you in getting the best sleep quality. These things may not get you better sleep straight away, but working out a sleep hygiene routine will help you get into a proper sleep schedule and increase your sleep quality.
Activities to avoid before going to sleep:
- Phone calls one hour before sleep.
- Exercise two hours before sleep increases our body temperature and makes it more difficult to sleep.
- Eating two hours before sleep.
- Although alcohol may get you off to sleep, it could affect how well you sleep. Alcohol and caffeine should be avoided at least three hours before you go to sleep.
- Falling asleep in front of the television or with the radio on or with a light on.
Here are some things to include in your bedtime routine to help encourage better sleep.
Activities to encourage are:
- Reading for a half hour before sleep.
- In the half-hour before sleep, a warm bath or a shower.
- In the hour before sleep, a warm, non-caffeinated based drink such as warm milk or chamomile tea.
The five “R’s” of the sleeping environment
You need to ensure your sleep patterns are at their best, and one way to do this is to build an appropriate sleeping environment. This will not only help develop good sleep hygiene but also good sleep habits and, therefore, a good night’s sleep.
- Routine. The key is you have a routine for when you go to sleep and wake up. 70% of us are larks and go to bed early, and 30% are night owls, i.e. the larks go to bed early, wake up early and the night owls go to bed late and wake up late.
- Relaxed. Don’t go to bed stressed, e.g. following an argument.
- Reducing temperature. It is important to go to sleep in a cool room and/or have a warm shower.
- Relationships. Poor relationships at either home or at work can lead to poor sleep.
- Ready. Know when your body is ready. Don’t go to sleep when you are wide awake, as you certainly won’t be able to sleep well.
Best time to wake up
We’re all guilty of hitting the snooze button on our alarm clock to try and get that extra little bit of sleep. When it comes to when you should wake up to ensure you’ve gotten enough sleep and good sleep, it comes down to your sleep cycle.
Whatever time you wake up, it’s important you have completed five cycles a night, which means you get in at least 7.5 hours. How much sleep is recommended by experts depends on how old you are. It also decreases as you age. You can use a sleep calculator to work out how much sleep you should be getting.
It’s not always easy, especially when we have young children that love to wake us up in the early morning no matter what time we go to bed. If you can, you should try to adjust your time to bed to get more sleep.
Ideally, you want to wake up at the end of a sleep cycle instead of in the middle of it — as it will help you feel more refreshed and energised than if you wake up at the end of a cycle.
“Sleep is the greatest act of self-care, so make sure you give yourself the opportunity to have at least 7 or 8 hours of sleep at night. Most people know what ’enough sleep’ means to them and what amount of sleep they operate best with,” adds Sarah.
“This means you will be in that rest and digest mode or REM sleep with the nervous system relaxed, and the brain and body can rest, repair, and rejuvenate.”
“Hop into bed as early as you can and wake up feeling rested and ready for your day and more stress-resilient.”
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