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Is There an Ideal Bedtime?

Last updated: August 2022

Is there such a thing as an ideal bedtime? Or is there an optimal quantity and quality of sleep that each person needs each night? There is no single answer to these questions, but experts agree that good quality sleep for a sufficient amount of time is important to daily functioning.1-5

The right bedtime is different for every person. Most people sleep when it is convenient for their personal lives. It could depend on their job, family needs, and social activities. It is common to go to sleep at a time that is based on a necessary wake-up time, depending on responsibilities like going to work or school, walking the dog, or taking care of loved ones.1,4

Insomnia

Some people have trouble falling or staying asleep. This is known as insomnia. It can last for a few days, weeks, months, or longer. Difficulty sleeping can be caused by many things, including stress, pain, or worry. Insomnia has many symptoms, including lack of energy, trouble concentrating, and mood changes.

Insomnia can interfere with getting the right amount of good quality sleep.

The right amount of sleep

Some people go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. Others have no particular sleep schedule. But experts agree adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Teens and children need more at 9 to 10 hours.2,4

There are 4 stages of sleep, divided into 2 types: REM and non-REM. Each night you cycle through all of these stages. If you get too few hours of sleep, you may not get enough non-REM sleep. This kind of sleep is responsible for feeling refreshed. Non-REM sleep is when your body relaxes, and heart rate and breathing slow down.3-5

Good sleep habits

Do you wake up on your own feeling well-rested and ready for each new day? Consistent sleep habits may improve sleep quality. Some common recommendations include relaxation and limited screen time before bed and eliminating noise and light in the bedroom.3

Studies report that people who go to bed between 8 p.m. and midnight generally have fewer problems sleeping and better daytime functioning. This time period is often called a sleep window. Most adults fall asleep between 10 p.m. and midnight. Roughly 1 in 3 adults go to bed after midnight.1,2,4

Each person has their own internal clock. Called a circadian rhythm, it regulates the body’s sleep-wake cycle, hunger, and other biological processes. If you have trouble sleeping, you may need to adjust your internal clock by slowly changing your bedtime window. This should be planned with your needed wake-up time. You can experiment by varying your bedtime depending on whether you lie in bed awake unable to fall asleep or you wake up too early.2,5

What is a sleep calculator?

A sleep calculator helps you determine how much sleep you need. It can help you plan when you should go to sleep based on what time you need to wake up. The sleep calculator helps people to target their ideal bedtime.3

Getting the right amount of quality sleep can help you to wake up naturally without setting an alarm. To calculate an optimal adult bedtime, subtract 8 hours from the time you need to wake up. For example, if you need to be up at 7 a.m., try going to bed at 11 p.m.1-5

Keep sleep times consistent

It is important to keep your internal clock on schedule. This means ideally going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, whether it is a workday, a day off, or a vacation. This plan can help improve your overall sleep and health. It can make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. This is hard for many people to do because of the desire to sleep late on days off or during vacation.2,3

A nightly sleep routine can improve the quality of your rest and may include:

  • Go to bed at the same time each night
  • Calming nightly rituals before bed
  • Use the bedroom for sleeping and intimacy and no other activities
  • Turn off all electronics and screens

Quality sleep plays an important role in physical and mental health. Your wellbeing when you are awake depends in part on your sleep.

Do you have any other tips to get better sleep? Share in the comments!

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