How to Find Your Ideal Sleep Schedule

How to Find Your Ideal Sleep Schedule
Giada Dorme #2 by Jacopo Romel

Maintaining a healthy sleep schedule can be tough, but if your sleep schedule isn’t exactly to your personal needs, it can be impossible. Your personal sleep schedule will differ depending on a variety of factors, including what time you need to wake up and what time you’re able to get back into bed. Finding your ideal sleep schedule takes time, so be prepared for trial and error. Here are a few key factors and steps that you’ll need to take before creating your own sleep schedule.


Determine How Long You Need to Sleep

In order to find your perfect sleep cycle, you must account for the fact that sleep cycles average about 90 minutes. The average amount of sleep cycles for an adult is 5 -- this allows you to go through each stage of sleep as well as REM sleep. 5 90-minute cycles comes out to 7.5 hours of sleep, so for your first night trying to find your sleep schedule, set your alarm to 7.5 hours after you go to sleep. Some people will prefer to set their alarm for eight hours after they hit the hay, to allow time to get ready for bed and begin to fall asleep. If you tend to take longer to get into that first sleep stage, account for this when setting your alarm.

Try Out Your New Sleep Schedule

To effectively try out your sleep schedule, keep on with the same schedule for at least three nights in a row. This is going to take a lot of discipline and you'll have to go to bed at the same time every night and attempt to wake up at the same time every night. At the end of your three-day trial period, the goal is for your sleep schedule to become completely natural to the point that you don't even need an alarm to wake up -- once your five sleep cycles are finished, you naturally wake up, completely rested!

What to Do If Your New Sleep Schedule Doesn't Work

If after 3 days of consistently going to sleep and waking at the same time daily and accounting for five 90-minute sleep cycles you’re still unable to wake up before your morning alarm, this means that your alarm is going off during one of your sleep cycles and you’re not achieving your maximum rest. To fix this, go to bed 15 minutes earlier for the next three nights. Everyone's circadian rhythms may differ slightly, so the 90-minute rule might not apply with you. Sleep cycles can last up to 120 minutes, so by moving your bedtime up 15 minutes, you can slowly find your natural sleep schedule. If the first 15 minute change doesn't do it for you still, tack on another extra 15 minutes, and so on until you hit that perfect sleep schedule!

Keeping to Your Sleep Schedule

Life happens and you may not be able to hit the hay at the same time every single night. The good news is that once you've found your sleep schedule, you know what to do should your sleep schedule be disrupted. By finding your ideal schedule, you'll already know exactly how much time you need to rest each night and you'll be able to get your schedule back to normal in as little as three days' time.

Finding your ideal sleep schedule will not only allow you to achieve restfulness in order to lead a more productive day -- it’ll help make your life that more organized in general. With a proper bedtime each night, you’re sure to find yourself feeling ready to take on the day by the time you wake up. That said, your sleep schedule doesn’t have to be inflexible -- should something occur to disrupt your sleep schedule (a night out, traveling, etc), you already have a set schedule so at the first opportunity, you can get back on track!
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