Are you one of the millions of people who feel tired on a daily basis? Sure you’d like to get more sleep, but when bedtime rolls around are you actually in bed? There are various reasons to stay up a little later at night. Going to bed early may seem like the last thing you want to do. It does have some major advantages though, so you may want to consider trying it out for a few weeks.
Why Going to Bed Early Rocks
- It’s healthy for your body! People who get adequate sleep find that maintaining a healthy weight is easier. You may be wondering why that is. Well, your body produces grehlin, a hunger hormone, when you sleep less than 6 hours per night.
I know I have felt the effects of this! When my kids were babies and waking up multiple times each night it would feel like I just laid down, and the alarm clock would be ringing. Every time I would start to feel a little sleepy at work I would also feel really hungry. I would eat something quick (usually on the less than healthy side) and then feel more alert.
- People who get enough sleep on a nightly basis have stronger immune systems. Your immune system is responsible for the production of several types of cells and proteins. Without enough sleep, you may be compromising your body’s ability to repair itself. You may also be more susceptible to germs. If you get sick, it may take longer for your body to become healthy again. Think about how much sleep you needed the last time you were sick. Your body required that extra sleep so that your immune system could fight the illness.
- Another benefit to going to bed earlier is that getting up in the morning is easier! A full night’s sleep leads to more productive mornings. You may choose to use this time to exercise, meditate or pray, work on a project that is important to you or just start your day in a relaxed way.
Related Post: Stop Hitting the Snooze Button
Tips For Going to Bed Early
- Exercise – One of the benefits of regular exercise is a better night’s sleep. There is conflicting research about the ideal time of day to exercise. The general consensus is that you should finish exercising about three hours prior to bedtime. This is something that is different for everyone though. As a working mom of four, I can only fit in exercise when the kids are in bed. I have found that exercising at 8:00 PM did not interfere with falling asleep by 10:00 PM (because I’m exhausted)! Other people may experience different results, so do what is right for you.
- Limit eating before bed – Again, there is conflicting research on this topic. In general, it is recommended that you finish your last meal of the day at least three hours before drifting off. If you are feeling hungry, a light bedtime snack may be appropriate if your last meal was 4 – 5 hours before your planned bedtime.
- Limit caffeine intake – In order to get a restful night’s sleep, research suggests limiting your caffeine intake for at least 6 hours prior to bed time. Often when we think of caffeine, we think of drinking coffee, tea or soda. Beware of hidden caffeine in chocolate, over the counter medications, etc.
- Find your body’s optimum amount of sleep – This is the amount of sleep your body needs to wake up naturally each day. To figure it out, sleep until you wake up naturally for a few days in a row, maybe on a long weekend. Keep track of when you went to bed and when you woke up each day, then find the average number of hours you slept.
- Determine your bed time. Using the number you figured out above, take the time you need to wake up in the morning and subtract the amount of sleep your body needs. The number you get is your target bed time.
- Limit screen time – Research shows that all of the bluish colored light from our various devices can interfere with sleep. It is recommended to put all devices away at least two hours before going to bed. Some experts say TV is OK though. Because of the distance from your face the blue light is less powerful.
- Set an alarm – Just like you may set an alarm when it’s time to wake up, you may want to set an alarm to remind yourself that it is time to get ready for bed. I know that it takes me about 15 minutes to go through my nightly routine. Setting an alarm 30 minutes before I would like to be in bed should give me enough time to finish what I am doing and complete my night time tasks.
Note: The iPhone comes standard with a bedtime feature.
- Give your body time to make adjustments – If you normally go to bed at midnight and decide that 9:00 PM is a better time for you, you may find yourself wide awake at 10:00. By gradually making the change, by about half an hour every few days (up to a week), you’re more likely to see results and stick with your new routine.
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Things that may help you sleep
- A warm bath or shower before bed
- Reading before bed (paper only- see #6 above)
- Sleeping in complete darkness
- Ideal room temperature of 60 -67 degrees Fahrenheit
- Warm milk
- Comfortable clothing
While research can help us make informed decisions, everyone is unique. Experiment with these tips and see what works best for you!
What are your tips for going to bed early?