man asleep in bed at night

How to Figure Out Your Perfect Bedtime

It’s an age-old question: just how much sleep should I be getting? Of course, everyone is different. But on average, adults should be getting around seven to nine hours of sleep each night, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

That can seem like a lofty, unattainable goal for busy people, though. Getting less than the recommended seven hours can’t be all that bad for us, right? We can just catch up on the weekends.

Well…

‘Catching Up’ on Sleep Is a Myth

Unfortunately, the notion that we can catch up on sleep is just not true. Sleep isn’t actually something that we can accumulate, use up, and refill. We don’t have the capacity to get back lost sleep.

And the effects of sleep deprivation can be pretty serious. Sure, one bad night of sleep can make you cranky the next day. But in the long run, poor sleeping habits could have serious health consequences, like putting you at risk for obesity, cardiovascular disease, or even Alzheimer’s, just to name a few.

How to Set the Perfect Bedtime

To figure out your perfect bedtime, you’re going to have to do some math. It’s easy, I promise!

Start by determining what time you need to wake up in the morning, and then count seven to nine hours back. You’ll also need to add an extra 5 to 20 minutes, because according to researchers at the University of Cambridge, it takes most people that long to fall asleep.

For instance, if you need to be awake at 7 am, and it takes you 15 minutes to fall asleep at night, you should go to bed between 9:45 to 11:45 pm to make sure you get enough sleep.

If you find yourself consistently waking before your alarm, you could move your bedtime a bit later. However, if you still struggle to wake up in the morning, you should shift your bedtime a little earlier.

Now, Stick With It

Once you figure out your bedtime, all you have to do is stick with it!

It’s extremely important to stick to a set schedule every day. Yes, even on the weekends. Keeping your sleep schedule consistent by going to bed and waking up at the same time everyday is one of the best ways to improve your sleep. It helps to set your body’s internal clock to expect sleep at a particular time.

Kate Singer