Do you want to know what time you should go to sleep to function well? Then you have come to the right place!
Here you will find out my magic formula for WORKING OUT THE RIGHT TIME YOU NEED TO GO TO BED
We all wish we could have more of it but for some reason it’s like chasing the end of an elusive rainbow – always within sight but something we are never able to catch and hold onto.
I’ve definitely been known to burn both ends of the candle, especially now that the kids are older.
Once upon a time when the kids were still little, I could get both of them down and asleep by 7/7:30pm and have a few hours of guaranteed peace and quiet to do some work.
Nowadays that feels like a long distant dream. With one teenager and another soon to be high schooler, there is no thinking of lights out before 9/9:30pm anymore. More often than not my daughter stays up even later too to do her schoolwork.
Consequently I stay up late too because hey, there is nothing better than when the kids are all asleep and you can finally claim a moment’s peace to yourself.
I personally love it (maybe too much!) when the house is serene and quiet; the only problem is I tend to wake up early too (more peace and quiet then!) and there is a price to pay for that lack of sleep in between.
EXCEPT I HAVE FINALLY FOUND THE PERFECT SOLUTION AND FORMULA TO RESOLVE THIS SLEEP ISSUE!
You often hear that people need so-and-so hours to function well. Or that they should go to sleep at XX o’clock and wake up at XX o’clock to have a nice, productive day.
Well I’m here to tell you there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to sleep. Instead here is the real secret to getting a good night’s sleep.
Hint: You need to work backwards!
ASK YOURSELF NOW: WHAT TIME DO YOU ACTUALLY WANT OR NEED TO WAKE UP IN THE MORNING?
Is it 5am? 6am? 7am? Or 8a.m.?
If you want to wake up earlier that’s great; if you want to wake up later that’s cool too.
There’s no judgement intended here, because it doesn’t matter if we all have different answers. It only matters that it works for you!
I personally like to get up around 6 or 6:30. It gives me a bit of a head-start to the day, especially when we all need to be out the door by 8:30am.
HOW MANY HOURS OF SLEEP DO YOU NEED?
If you are older than 20 then I think you have had enough life experience to know how much sleep you need to function well the next day (for some reason kids tend to UNDERESTIMATE how much sleep they need!)
I know I need 8 hours to feel truly rested and happy. Any longer than that and I just lay awake in bed, tossing and turning, when my eyelids peeled back.
Sometimes I can admittedly get away with 7 hours but it’s harder to get up in the morning then and I tend to feel like crashing out at some point later that day.
Now it’s time for a bit of math. If I know that I need 8 hours sleep to function well and I like to wake up at 6am that means I definitely need to be asleep by 10pm to make this happen.
LET ME POINT THIS OUT TO YOU NOW:
This formula needs to be adapted to your own personal situation. Say you personally prefer to wake up at 5am and yet you need 9 hours sleep to survive then you my friend will need to be 100% asleep by 8pm to make that happen.
Or alternatively let’s say you can afford to sleep in until 7am and only need 7 hours sleep – lucky you, you just need to be asleep by midnight to have a great next day.
GET READY FOR BED ONE HOUR BEFORE YOUR PROPOSED SLEEP TIME
When I said I personally need to be asleep at 10am to get my 8 hours sleep and wake up at 6am fresh-faced and rested, that doesn’t mean I can just potter around the house and jump into bed at 9:55pm, with the assumption I will be asleep in five minutes.
I wish it worked that way but trust me, from experience it usually doesn’t. I have had too many nights that it’s taken me ages to get to sleep and of course this delay has cut into my precious sleep time.
Remember how you had (or still have) a routine to prepare your kids for bedtime (we didn’t just whip them away from playing Lego and pop them into bed) – well you need to do the same for yourself.
The suggested rule is this:
YOU NEED TO ACTUALLY BE IN BED 30 MINUTES BEFORE YOUR PROPOSED BEDTIME TO MAXIMISE YOUR CHANCES OF FALLING ASLEEP ON TIME.
SO…ONE HOUR BEFORE BEDTIME:
One hour before your bedtime you need to start prepping for sleep. This just means quietly slipping into your PJs, brushing your teeth, washing your face and maybe sipping a nice herbal tea. It’s the first signal to your body and mind that “hey, sleep is just around the corner.”
You can still keep doing the other stuff that needs to be done too…like watching a show or completing a last minute tidy of the house – the only difference is YOU ARE IN YOUR PJS doing it.
THEN 30 MINUTES BEFORE BEDTIME
I recommend setting an alarm if you have a tendency to get distracted. If I want or need to be asleep by 10pm to get my 8 hours sleep, at 9:30pm I NEED TO GO TO BED.
No it isn’t childish. No it isn’t selfish.
Remember you know your body best! If your body needs 8 hours sleep and you give it only 6 hours then don’t act all surprised the next day when you feel like cr#p.
Get in bed and you have 30 minutes to prep your body for sleep and do whatever you need to do to relax. Read a book; listen to a podcast or music, JUST RELAX.
NOTE: Playing on your phone isn’t relaxing! Don’t kid yourself by thinking it is.
Do yourself a favor and get off social media – even better, leave your phone to charge IN ANOTHER ROOM OF THE HOUSE
SO HERE’S THE MAGIC FORMULA:
WHAT TIME WOULD YOU IDEALLY LIKE TO WAKE UP BY?
HOW MANY HOURS OF SLEEP DO YOU NEED TO FUNCTION WELL?
YOUR RECOMMENDED “FALL ASLEEP” TIME IS:
“Your Wake Up Time” Minus “Your Hours Of Required Sleep”
THIS MEANS I NEED TO BE ASLEEP BY : ……….. PM TO FUNCTION WELL
PREPPING FOR BEDTIME BEGINS ONE HOUR EARLIER
My time is: …………………… PM
“I NEED TO ACTUALLY BE IN BED BY” TIME IS 30 MINUTES LATER
My time is: …………………… PM
SPECIAL NOTE TO MOMS WITH BABIES AND YOUNG KIDS
Gosh when your kids are young you may wish that you could stick to this formula of getting enough sleep but it’s near impossible to get a long stretch of unbroken sleep when the kids are still waking up during the night.
In this instance you need to allow for and expect broken sleep and work out how much EXTRA time you need to add to the formula to make up for these interruptions.
Will an extra hour in bed keep you sane? An extra two hours?
Whatever the case, you will need to make allowances for this necessity. Getting enough sleep when you are feeling sleep deprived is more important than ever!
I know because I have been there before. I have suffered from the effects of living on no sleep which translates to “feeling like a walking zombie.” I know how terrible it can make you feel (a bed has never looked so enticing before!)
Can you do great things when you feel this way?
Are you inclined to feel more grumpy, angry and frustrated at EVERYTHING when you are sleep-deprived?
You need to finally make sleep a priority in your life.
Respect your body’s needs and it will reward you with a clearer mind, more energy and the focus you absolutely need to live a more intentional life. And that’s what we all want and need right now, isn’t it?