As promised, we are going to start digging in deep into sleep hygiene, one tactic at a time. This lesson is all about securing a predictable time to sleep.
Because our bodies respond very well to routine, I want you to start going to bed at the same time every night. If you go to bed at the same time every night, say 10:00 pm, then when that time rolls around, you'll notice that you start to feel tired (a little before 10 pm).
This is actually a good thing: feeling tired at bedtime. It is your body's way of letting you know it needs rest. Now, everybody is different, and we all need a different amount of sleep. According to WebMD, and sleep.com, and The Science of Sleep, and pretty much all sleeping professionals, most adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep a night.
In a more advanced course, I can help you discover the exact amount of sleep you need for you specifically, right down to the quarter-hour. But for now, let's just focus on getting you better sleep. We need to get you sleeping regularly and with ease. So let's go with the old standard average of 8 hours.
To begin, determine when you need to be up the next morning. To keep the math easy, let's say you need to be up at 6:00 am to get ready for work. Going to bed at 10:00 pm would give you 8 hours.
That would only be true if you fell asleep the minute your head hit the pillow. I'm going to assume you aren't quite to that level of sleeping prowess. (Don't worry, we'll get you there).
So, for now, I want you to plan for 9 hours of in-bed time. That's right. If you need to be up by 6:00 am, I want you in bed at 9:00 pm. This is going to give us some wiggle room until we get your sleep schedule adjusted.
Also, I'm sure, like a lot of people, you use weekend mornings to "catch up" on lost sleep. While repaying that sleep-debt is important, it is much more important to maintain a regular sleep schedule. That means going to bed and getting up at the same time on weekends, as you do on weekdays.
If you are the type of person who stays out very late on Fridays and Saturdays and sleeps in way late on Saturday and Sunday mornings, this may feel like a radical change. But try it; your sleep is going to be so much better if you do this. For this course, I'm going to give you a little leeway. You can go to bed one hour later and get up one hour later on the weekends. This keeps your circadian rhythms pretty consistent while still allowing you to enjoy your weekend nights/mornings. So if you are going to bed at 9:00 pm during the week, you can only stay up until 10:00 pm on the weekends. And if you normally get up at 6:00 am, you can sleep in until 7:00 am on the weekends.
So figure out when you need to be up in the morning, back-track 9 hours, and that's your new bedtime (yes, starting tonight).
The next lesson is entitled "Your Nightly Routine Before Bed." In it, we will learn activities surrounding bedtime that can promote better sleep. Until then, Happy Zzz's...