How to calculate your ideal bedtime

By: May 10, 2013
sleep and your health

Calculate the best time for you to go to sleep so you can enjoy the quality sleep you need to function at your best.

The real world may not allow us much choice in what time we have to get up most mornings, but you do usually get a say in what time you go to bed. In order to get the best amount of sleep, it’s important to know the right bedtime for you. This article will help you calculate the best time for you to go to sleep so you can enjoy the quality sleep you need to function at your best. The key isn’t just knowing what your best bedtime is but also following it faithfully so that you begin to naturally wakeup around the time your alarm clock is set to go off without the need for the alarm to startle you out of slumber.

Here’s how to calculate.

• Take note of the time you are required to get up in the morning.

• The average sleep cycle is around 90 minutes long and the average a person has 5 cycles each night. When you multiply 90 minutes by 5 cycles, you get 7.5 hours of sleep.

• Starting at your wakeup time, count backwards 7.5 hours and that gives you your ideal bedtime which can be adjusted to suit your needs every night of the week if you don’t always have to be up at the exact same time each day.

Here’s an example: If you need to be up at 6 a.m. to get ready for work, counting backwards by 7.5 hours means that you should be in bed and ready for sleep by 10:30 the night before.

If you find that you’re waking up more than just a few minutes before your alarm, let’s say an hour; adjust your bed time by going to bed a little later. The same goes for those who find themselves still sleeping until the alarm goes off after a week or so of following these guidelines: go to bed 15 minutes earlier and keep on tweaking your bedtime by 15 minutes until you’re waking up just before your alarm.

Now that we’ve determined the quantity of sleep needed and told you how to go about getting it, consider the actual quality of your sleep. Each sleep cycle should see you through different stages of sleep:  Stage 1 and 2 are considered light sleep, Stage 3 and 4 are restorative sleep, and REM sleep is mentally restorative sleep. Any interruptions that stop you from getting 90 minutes of sleep per cycle doesn’t count, in which case you need to go back and start the process all over again in order to get all the benefits that each stage provides.

To calculate the quality of your sleep, consider the amount of time that you were actually asleep, taking into account how many minutes it took you to fall asleep and the times you got up to go to the bathroom, or even just the times that you woke up from a bad dream or some other interruption. Total all of that and divide it by how long you were in bed. That number will give you a percentage of how well you slept.

Aim for 85 percent or higher and make adjustments to ensure that you get the quantity and quality of sleep you need every night. A glass of warm milk, making your room a little darker, or just going to bed a little earlier could help you get there.