Sleep is probably one of the most discussed health wise topic next to healthy eating. There are tons of research papers, articles and etc. You can find opinions about sleep not only in the health oriented websites and blogs, but also in some of the most renowned business magazines such as Harvard Business Review
Why is that?
The short answer is that sleep is essential for human’s health, wellbeing and daily life. Sleep improves learning, enhances problem-solving skills, improves focus, creativity and much much more. It is not a surprise why people from different walks of life are taking the time to express their opinion about sleep, care about sleep and invest money into researching the effect of sleep.
In sum – sleep is good and we need it to function properly. But how much should we sleep? When should we go to bed and wake up?
There are 2 fractions (sort of) – one of the early birds that stand for early waking up and the other is the night owls. They are the ones who prefer working late at night and sleep until noon.
If I use the word “stand” for expressing my inclination towards the former group, I would seem that I find the latter as wrong. Saying that would be completely false and here is why.
I don’t find one behaviour superior to the other for the simple reason that people are different. We have different lifestyle, bodies, needs and characteristics.
- Some people are more productive between 7 and 10 am, while others between 11 pm and 3 am AND THAT’S FINE.
- Some people can operate on 4-5h sleep per night, while others need 7-8h AND THAT’S FINE.
- Some people need to turn their phones off and unwind at least 1 hour before bed to get good night sleep, while others scroll Instagram while in bed AND THAT’S FINE
I can go on and on with those examples. But those are the main themes you will find in most articles about sleep – get X amount hours of sleep, get your work done between X and Y and turn your fucking phone off.
They are all helpful insights and you should definitely try them out and see if they work for you.
And this is where you should be focused.
Be honest with yourself and find out how many of hours sleep you actually need.
Test how many hours you TRULY need and be honest with yourself.
Don’t just stick to the 8h rule, because there is huge chance that it is irrelevant for you. Do 3-4 weeks of testing by starting with the golden 8 hours. Do your best to sleep exactly 8 hours of sleep each night. Right after waking up, quickly jot down how was the sleep and how do you feel now. For the second week go for 7 hours. For the third week reduce your sleep to 6 hours. If you want to experiment, you can go for a 4th week with 5 hours of sleep.
Reflect AFTER the whole testing period. Check out your sleep journal, although internally you will know by now what is the sufficient amount of sleep for you, and stick with the results.
When should you go to bed?
9 pm, 10 pm, 11:23 pm… Well it is up to your lifestyle. Check with yourself when do you feel most productive – late at night, early in the morning or during the day? As long as you get the hours of sleep YOUR body needs, it really does not matter.
Should you get up early?
There is wide misunderstanding of the notion of getting up early. It definitely does not mean getting up at 5 am or 6 am.
It rather stands for NOT oversleeping. Go to bed, get the hours YOUR body needs and get up.
How does my sleep routine look like and what do I do?
When do I go to bed?
Usually I aim to be in bed around 11 pm, but in most cases it is more like 11:20 pm. After that time I get seriously sleepy and nervous.
When do I wake up?
- During the week it varies depending what I need to do, but it is either 6 am or 5:30 am.
- During the weekend I let myself recover, if necessary, but I am up around 7 am. I feel that the mental break of not waking up at certain hour is really helpful.
I track my sleep
I use Fitbit Charge 2 to track my sleep and get more insights about the quality of it. As in most things, quality is even more important than quantity.
One personal finding is that alcohol (even 1-2 beers) affects my sleep in a negative way. Even though I still get the same total hours, I don’t feel very well rested if I had couple of beers the pervious night.
You don’t need to get that much geeky about your sleep, but you need to find the optimal hours needed by your body and stick with it. Also see what affects it in a negative way and avoid it as much as possible.
It is that simple.