How to Find Your Body's Best Bedtime

Early to bed, early to rise? That's good. Late to bed, late to rise? For some people, that's good too. Your body's best bedtime is the time that works best for you.

The best time to go to bed is the time that ensures you get enough sleep before you have to get up each day to go to work or school or take care of your home life. If you know how much sleep you need, all you really have to do is count back that many hours from the time you need to get up and you know what time you have to go to bed to get that amount of rest. That may sound like a no-brainer but what you may not realize is how important it is to maintain a sleep routine and consistently go to bed at the same time each night.

You may need only six hours of sleep to feel refreshed or you may still feel tired even when you get seven or eight. The actual amount of sleep you need is a function of your age, activity level, and other individual factors. Which is to say that your needs are likely to change over time and you will have to accommodate those changes in order to get the best night's sleep you can.

You may not realize that you need to adjust your bedtime to get the right amount of sleep. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine says most people need an average of seven hours and that if you experience some or all of the following signs on a regular basis, you're probably not be getting enough and need to go to bed earlier:

  • You need an alarm clock to wake up on time.
  • One or two cups of coffee isn't enough to keep you going throughout the day.
  • Driving makes you drowsy.
  • You often lose focus and make mistakes.
  • You become forgetful.
  • Mood swings are affecting your personal and professional life.
  • You get sick more often than most people.

Good sleep habits are just that: habits. Once you know how much sleep you need each night, and you determine your best bedtime, sleeping well is mostly a matter of maintaining good sleep habits. That means even if you don't get to bed on time, you should still get up as usual the next day. If you "sleep in," you start the process of resetting your body clock and you won't feel sleepy when your normal bedtime comes around again. Likewise it's important to keep yourself up until your normal bedtime, and avoid naps, on those days when you're dragging due to lost sleep. The bottom line: Find the bedtime that works best for you, and stick to it.



American Academy of Sleep Medicine: Seven Signs You Need Sleep 31 Dec 2008 Web 8 Aug 2011

Kansas State University: How to Get a Good Night's Sleep Web 8 Aug 2011