Sleep like a baby and wake up as right as rain.
Sleep is one of the most crucial activities of our lives as humans. We need it so as to help us function effectively and also to keep us healthy. The time we go to bed depends largely on the schedule you keep as regards your job, your social life and family life. The time you wake up also will depend on your responsibilities as regards these areas of your life.
It has been found that most adults need seven to nine hours of sleep every day. Now, what times during the day should you get these hours in, is another story. Let’s begin with when you have to get up in the mornings. If you have to be up by 7:00am, it would be ideal to be asleep by 11pm i.e. you count backwards from when you have to be awake so know when you have to go to bed.
Although this is a good way to start, there are individual distinctions to when it comes to the most healthy sleep schedule. Some people are night lovers(owls), while some are morning lovers(larks), then there are people who are not owls or larks but fall in-between. What determines where you fall in these variations is your circadian rhythm. Your circadian rhythm is also known as your sleep/wake cycle. It is your 24-hour internal clock that runs in the background of your brain and cycles between sleepiness and alertness in addition to other bodily functions at steady, regular intervals.
What this means is, there is no one regular sleep pattern that all adults can adopt or follow. The best pattern will be one that suits each individual while allowing you get the required seven to nine hours sleep.
Although we have said there is no one optimal sleep schedule for each individual, there are optimal windows of opportunity which you can take advantage of to get the required number of sleep hours. This optimal window is between 8:00pm and 12:00am. With this window in mind in addition to your wake up time, you can now experiment with different possible sleep schedule to find which is best. There are different ways by which you can experiment. If you find yourself struggling to go to fall asleep like 20-30mins after getting into bed, this might be a sign that you are in bed to early. So, it would be a good idea to shift your bedtime by 30mins. E.g. if you normally go to bed by 9:30pm, try moving your bed time up to 10:00pm. On the other hand, if you find yourself already falling asleep before your bedtime, try moving your bedtime forward. If you wake up earlier than your alarm, try going to bed later by the amount of time you get to wake up before your alarm.
Studies have shown that babies tend to fall asleep faster at night and sleep better through the night when they have been exposed to enough light through the day. Well, when it comes to adults, enough light during the day does not make us sleep better at night but what helps us is a consistent sleep schedule that we have found that works for each of us and we get quality sleep out of following it.
This is important because it directly affects our mental and physical health, immune system, creativity, vitality in addition to your weight. Quality sleep is the benefit we derive from a healthy sleep schedule and we can achieve this also from buying and using the right mattress, bedrest pillow, sheets and even throws.
There are some signs that show you are not getting enough sleep or as it is called sleep deprivation. If you feel sluggish when you wake up in the mornings, you find yourself falling asleep within 5 mins of going to bed, feel sluggish in the afternoons, find yourself falling asleep in meetings, classes or a warm room, you get sleepy after heavy meals or while in motion like driving, you must take a nap during the day, easily fall asleep when relaxing in the evening or in front of the tv or feel the need to sleep in on weekends, then you most likely have to revisit your sleep schedule because these signs point to a schedule that isn’t good for your overall health.
So, there are some ways by which you can help get the most healthy sleep schedule. First, make sure you rule out any medical condition or side effect of certain medications that is preventing you from getting sleep say, insomnia. Try to be consistent with your sleep schedule. If you go to bed at 10:00pm at night to wake up at 6:am, stick to this pattern but add any slight variations to it as your daily or evening activities changes, this is inclusive of weekends. Regular exercise has been known to improve sleep so, try and get some regular exercise in with 30-45mins as the goal most days. Just before bedtime, try and avoid heavy meals, caffeine, alcohol, sugary foods or even drinking lots of fluids, as these will make it harder for you to fall asleep. Improve your sleep environment, get the right mattress for you, make sure the atmosphere is nice, quiet and dark enough for you to sleep. If you find out that you are under a lot of stress from work, family, relationships or even school, try and get help with stress management to help you worry less and sleep more. This way you get to postpone worry from interrupting your sleep. Another great way to help make your sleep schedule effective is by developing a bedtime routine that is relaxing. Try and avoid using your laptop just before bed as it might keep you awake. Get some soothing music to listen to that can lull you to sleep or soak in a warm bath with some relaxing oils.