If you have difficulty getting a good night’s sleep trying to ignore the problem is never a good idea, especially as there are lots of things you can do to begin to tackle it
Improving your bedtime habits, making use of natural sleep aids and even just turning off the TV (and your phone) can all help. But here’s a question for you? Do you know what your ideal bedtime is?
Determining your ideal bedtime significantly increases the chances you’ll get both the quantity and the quality of sleep you need. But just how can you do that?
What Time is Time For Bed?
Maybe you don’t quite know what time you should be going to bed but everyone knows what time they personally need to get up. This is because of something that sleep experts call our socially determined wake up time.
In other words, there is always some kind of outside commitment – getting ready for school or work, walking the dog, getting the kids up – that determines what time you need to set your alarm for. So in order to calculate your ideal bedtime, you’ll need to work backward from that.
Setting Sleep Goals
By taking the time to create a nightly sleep routine and an ideal bedtime, you’ll be working to meet a couple fundamental sleep goals: getting enough sleep, and making sure it is high-quality rest.
Ideal Bedtime Sleep Calculator
This formula tackles sleep quantity. The only information you need is your wake-up time. Here’s how it works:
- The average sleep cycle is 90 minutes long
- A typical night of sleep includes 5 full sleep cycles
- 90 x 5 = 450 minutes, or 7.5 hours
- As an adult, that’s how much sleep you need at a minimum. Some get by on less, but it may not be the healthiest idea.
- Starting at your wake time, work back 7.5 hours to find your bedtime
- For example: You need to wake at 6 a.m. to get ready for work. Counting back 7.5 hours, your ideal bedtime is 10:30 p.m. That means lights out, in bed, ready for sleep at that time, not the time you turn off the TV and begin to get ready for bed!
This ideal bedtime is a starting point, and may need some adjustment, as individual sleep cycles vary in their duration. Try your new bedtime for a week. The goal is to wake naturally about 5-10 minutes ahead of your alarm. If you find yourself waking significantly ahead of your alarm, move your bedtime slightly later. And by the way, if you have an iPhone, the calculator built into the stock alarm function will do this for you, no math required!
All of this may be rather daunting if you are one of the many people who have difficulty falling asleep every night in the first place. That’s where sleep efficiency comes in. Many people do make use of sleep aids to get to sleep. Not pills, but things like sleep masks, ear plugs, white noise machines and similar items.
If you do – or are interested in trying such things – make sure they are ‘in place’ as close to your chosen bedtime as possible or move your bedtime forward a little to account for the extra time it might take to do so.