veryone’s got a different relationship with their sleep. There are those who wish they had more time for it, and those who could use an earlier start to their day. No matter where you fall, what we all know is that the need for sleep should be respected if you want to get the most out of every day -- and that’s all anyone could ask for. Wake-up time is going to be different for everyone; your whole lifestyle will impact what time you should be waking up.
What the article covers:
- The science behind sleep cycles
- How to make a consistent sleep schedule for yourself
- What’s nice about getting up early
- Tricks to getting good sleep
The Cycle of Sleep
The first step to creating your custom sleep schedule is to understand the science behind it. When we turn off the lights, tunnel under the covers, and close our eyes, we take the gradual dive from light to deep sleep. This is our awareness of a sleep cycle, which is better defined as the fluctuation between slow-wave and Rapid-Eye Movement (REM) phase of sleep. While we may not be aware of them, there are four phases in a sleep cycle.
- Phase One -- A light sleep you can easily be woken up from. This phase occurs within the first five to ten minutes of you falling asleep.
- Phase Two -- Your body prepares for deep sleep as your heart rate slows and body temperature drops.
- Phase Three -- It becomes harder for you to be woken up as you enter deep sleep. Delta waves emerge, and this is the stage in which self-healing occurs.
- Phase Four -- 90 minutes in you’ve reached phase four. This is the stage in which the periods of REM begin and the brain becomes more active. This is when you dream. You experience five or six REM cycles in this phase, the first lasting ten minutes, and the last could be as long as an hour.
These phases of sleep makes a complete cycle that you don’t want to disturb by waking up too early. Interrupting deep, REM sleep could mean you wake up more tired than when you first fell asleep.
A lot gets done during sleep, such as the maintenance of a healthy immune system that’s capable of fighting off infection. Sleep is critical in preserving muscle and brain functions, and not getting enough sleep could impact your ability to convert short-term memory into long-term.
What’s Your Bedtime?
The whole point of having a wake-up time is consequently also having a bedtime. You’re an adult, and likely don’t have anything set in stone. But we are creatures of habit, and you may have a goal for a bedtime. I want to be in bed with the lights out by eleven. Having a goal in mind means you’re already well on your way to developing a productive sleep schedule.
We’ve heard it over and over again: every night we should be getting seven to nine hours of sleep. So naturally, the time you fall asleep will determine when you should wake up. If you have a bedtime in mind, or a wake-up time, you can use an online sleep calculator to ensure you’ve put aside enough time to get all the rejuvenating sleep you need.
You’ll get your best sleep once you develop a consistent sleep schedule. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day -- yes, even on weekends! -- is what’s going to normalize your body clock so you no longer need an alarm. You’ll wake up naturally to when you need to, sometimes ten minutes before your alarm goes off. That tells you your sleep schedule is working.
You want to follow a sleep schedule that is compatible with your sleep cycle. This means there is no perfect sleep schedule that fits everyone, because sleep cycles are unique to the individual. It changes with age, and distinguishes the night owls from the early birds.
The Perks of Being an Early Riser
Waking up early, for a lot of people, sounds like the worst idea. Ever. It’s definitely not for everyone, which is what makes it so beneficial to the few that can normalize it. Many successful celebrities you may know wake up as early as four AM to get their early start.
Your Body Clock Can Be Your New Best Friend
You might find it beneficial to structure your sleep schedule in a way that allows you to naturally wake up early. Waking up early means your alarm time isn’t dependent on the plans of the day, and allows for your sleep schedule to be genuinely consistent. You might find your body clock normalizing, and you wake up early without any aid from an alarm.
Productivity, Here We Come
It’s no surprise that there are far fewer distractions in the early morning. Plus, having woken up so early, you’ll be motivated to make the extra hassle worth it and get something done. If you struggle with focus and drive for productivity, waking up early might be worth a try.
A Healthy Head Start to Each Day
Giving yourself such a generous head start may also improve your mental health. Gone are the days you wake up and immediately switch into rush mode, stumbling out of bed and straight out the door. You now have the time to gradually wake up, make yourself a hot tea, sit down in front of your laptop. This early bird lifestyle reduces stress and encourages clarity of mind and creativity.
How to Get a Good Sleep
Creating a sleep schedule is useless if you can’t stick to it and get a good night’s rest. Sometimes falling asleep is easier said than done. In fact sleep quality and quantity have been down in recent statistics. Luckily there are several things you can do to ensure you get the amount of sleep you deserve.
Watch What You Eat
Unsurprisingly, the few hours following the time you want to get into bed, avoid the foods and drinks that are going to keep you up. That can include caffeinated beverages like tea and coffee, and sugary foods like candy. Alcohol isn’t your best bet either, as while it may get you to sleep, it will affect your quality of sleep. Alcohol prevents you from achieving the deep sleep your body needs.
Turn Off All Electronics
Our mobile phones are the handiness little things, serving us so much information at high speeds. Great to have in general, but not for right now, when you’re trying to get some sleep. The phone is only going to keep you awake. If not with its addictive qualities, then the phone will get you with its artificial light that tricks our minds into believing its morning, and we receive less of the melatonin that tells us we’re tired. If you a suggestion on what else you could do the few extra minutes you have before bed, try mediation or reading a good book.
Cut the Nap
Everyone loves a good nap, but these midday snoozes are negatively impacting the quality and quantity of sleep you’re getting at night. Sleeping while the sun is up confuses your internal clock, which not only means you’ll struggle to fall asleep when it matters, but also you’ll likely be more tired during the day. Don’t make this put a stop on your power naps. It’s the longer, deeper nap you need to be wary of.
A Bedroom: Emphasis on Bed
Sometimes we forget the primary use of a bedroom is a place to sleep. Yes, it’s also a place to put all your crap, but if that’s getting in the way of your comfort, something needs to change. Studies find that if you set up your room so that -- come sleeping time -- you achieve low lighting, quietness, and a comfortable temperature, sleep will be easier to slip into. Bright lights and loud noises will make sleep more of a challenge than it ever ought to be. So buy thicker curtains, tell the neighbors to quiet down, and make your bedroom a place that you consider relaxing and comfortable.
Up and At Em
Exercise isn’t beneficial in the few hours following bedtime. However in general throughout the day, even a ten minute walk will help your chances in getting a good night's sleep. Exercise of any kind will decrease your daytime tiredness and give you better quality sleep.
Waking up isn’t easy for a lot of people, but it can be if you put the effort into maintaining a consistent sleep schedule. All it really takes is some mindful decision making on your bedtime and wake-up time.