Happy Monday and welcome to Sleep Better Weekly!
This week we are going to:
- see the results of our bedtime poll
- learn about the benefits of a regular bedtime
- take a Daylight Savings Time poll
- set your "sleep window"
The Results are In!
Last week's poll asked when you typically go to bed. There was one clear favorite, and three tied for second place.
- 76% go to bed at a set time each night.
- 8% go to bed whenever they begin to feel sleepy.
- 8% go to bed when their kids are FINALLY asleep.
- 8% go to bed at the first possible opportunity, regardless of the time.
I have a feeling this group has such a large percentage of "set time each" night is due to my audience being mostly mid-life folks, who tend to be more routine. But who knows?
There are lots of jokes out there about "old people" who have to get to bed at a certain time or people who live and die by their routines. And I get it - being predictable, valuing sleep and habits over excitement and spontaneity could seem a little boring and dull. But the health benefits that come from regular routines, sleep in particular, are no joke.
Did you know that irregular sleep patterns in mid-life adults have been associated with higher rates of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, metabolic disease, stress and depression?
Our bodies function best when we align them with predictable schedules as much as possible. You may have heard the term "circadian rhythm". It's a 24-hour cycle in which natural processes respond to light and dark. This cycle affects most living things including animals, plants, microbes and PEOPLE.
It shouldn't come as a shock that our bodies function best when we align them to the environment that has been designed for us to live in, but our modern world makes it easy to forget that. Lights, technology, 24-hour shopping, streaming entertainment.
But taking even the smallest step AWAY from this artificial environment of bright lights, bells & whistles, and TOWARD a more natural, predictable cycle can have huge benefits. Reduced stress levels and risk of cardiac/metabolic disease, improved mood, focus and energy - just to name a few!
This week's poll asks, "What do you do differently to account for the 1-hour time change of Daylight Savings time?" (Other than adjust your clocks of course!)
Tips for Setting a Regular Bedtime
- Start with the end in mind. Think of the time you wake up MOST often during a typical week.
- Be realistic. How long are you actually sleeping most nights? Don't include time spent in bed scrolling, watching TV, working or lying awake. Got your sleep total? This figure is your "sleep-ability".
- Back it up! Starting at your wake time, wind back the clock in the amount of your sleep-ability total. This is your suggested bedtime.
- Example: If your typical wake time is 6am and your typical sleep-ability is 7 hours, your bedtime should be 11pm.
FAQ: But won't I get even LESS sleep if I do it this way? That's a great question and one I've asked myself. The answer is, maybe, but only in the short term. Research shows that sticking to a regular bedtime and setting a sleep window that matches up with the amount of time we are actually sleeping helps to consolidate our sleep window with less time spent lying awake (and stressing!).
Want to improve your sleep with a more regular bedtime, but have trouble implementing or sticking to new habits? Schedule a complimentary 30-minute coaching session with me and let's make a plan that will get you closer to your goal without the stress and overwhelm!
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