What Is the Best Time to Go to Bed?

When we talk about self-care and healthy habits, in most cases, we mean a wholesome diet, regular physical activity and deep sleep. It sounds nice, but unfortunately our life can’t always remain carefree. When stress accumulates at an alarming rate, restful sleep is the first to leave our lives.

You probably often hear that an average person needs to sleep seven or more hours to feel good. But what is the best time to go to bed and does it really matter?

Concern about such details is justified. For instance, it’s obvious that it’s unsafe to drive a car in a sleepy state. A tired person experiences problems with concentration and productivity, which leads to various issues. Over time, chronic lack of sleep begins to correlate with the occurrence of such health problems as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, obesity, pain syndrome, mental disorders, hormonal abnormalities and weakened immunity.

How many hours of sleep does a person really need?

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) recommends sleeping at least seven hours every night. As a rule, 7-8 hours are enough for an adult to feel energetic during the day. However, as scientists clarify, first of all, it’s necessary to focus on the personal needs of your body. For example, parents know that babies and children need to sleep longer. There are tables in the public domain from which you can find out the recommended duration of sleep for each age category.

Even if you’re functioning tolerably well with a sleep duration of less than seven hours, scientists still advise you to strive for the recommended norm. Don’t neglect the opportunity to sleep an extra hour or at least take a nap in the afternoon.

Also, don’t ignore alarming signs if you fail to feel rested after a night of your usual sleep. Hidden health problems may be involved in the inability to get enough sleep. So you’d better visit your doctor for a routine check.

At what time should you go to bed?

According to recent studies, it’s best to go to bed around 10 pm. However, it’s not an immutable rule. According to doctors, it’s optimal to go to bed when a person already feels very sleepy. If you do it earlier, before the onset of fatigue, you’ll be more than likely ready to spend several hours in failed attempts at falling asleep.

If your daily routine involves rather early mornings, make it a habit to go to bed so as to follow the norm of the above-mentioned 7 hours. To fall asleep faster, somnologists recommend minimizing incoming light 1-2 hours before the planned moment of going to bed. This tip is especially relevant with regards to the light from computer screens, smartphones and other devices.

Is it always necessary to go to bed at the same time every night?

As mentioned above, first of all, it’s necessary to focus on the needs of your body. However, falling asleep at the same time every night enables you to maintain a stable function of circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms are the so-called biological clock that is responsible for falling asleep and waking up.

Sticking to the same routine is also important because deviation from it complicates the process of falling asleep at night. You might have noticed it after late-night gatherings on the weekend. This type of break in sleep patterns is called “social jetlag”. In the long run, it can lead to sleep deprivation, which negatively affects the state of wakefulness during the day. Plus, it leads to mood fluctuations, weight gain, increased blood pressure and high sugar levels. When you don’t have to get up early the next day, it might be tempting to push back your sleep time a bit later. Nevertheless, try to stick to the same sleep schedule that you had during the week.

How to enhance sleep quality?

If you struggle to fall asleep and then wake up frequently during the night, you shouldn’t let the situation take its course. To improve sleep hygiene, doctors recommend introducing such habits into your routine:

  1. Read books before going to bed
  2. Don’t watch TV and avoid backlit screens 30 minutes before bedtime
  3. Avoid heavy meals before going to bed — to get rid of hunger, opt for light snacks and limit the amount of liquid
  4. Sleep in a cool and dark room
  5. If you struggle to fall asleep at night, avoid an afternoon nap
  6. Limit caffeinated food and beverages (coffee, soda, tea, energy drinks and chocolate) in the afternoon
  7. About 4-6 hours before bedtime, refrain from smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol, as these habits negatively affect your sleep
  8. Exercise in the afternoon

If you haven’t been able to fall asleep for 20 minutes, medical professionals recommend getting out of bed and doing any non-stimulating activity: yoga, meditation or listening to light music in a dim room. If you have long-term problems, consult your doctor to consider adjusting your sleep regime with the help of pharmaceuticals.

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