You might have not paid enough attention to it, but if you sleep differently, your brain cannot rest. As a result, you feel tired in the beginning of the day and can’t solve easy tasks. Moreover, it affects your health badly. So, how do you find an ideal sleep time and when should you go to sleep?
Optimal Sleep Time
Have you ever noticed that when you are tired and sleepy, some tasks seem unsolvable? Yet, when you go to sleep and wake up the next morning, it is so easy you do not believe you could not solve it. The thing is, when you sleep, your brain selectively deletes unnecessary memories. It removes things that will not be used again, but saves things that were in a short-term memory. This way we learn and remember.
Lack of sleep worsens the work of certain parts of the brain.
For example, some mental processes in the parietal lobe are slowed down, which lead to reaction disorders. If you do not sleep enough for longer, the prefrontal cortex slows down, so it is hard for you to think and even see. The fatigue of your brain turns into serious mental disorders and may lead to diseases.
The most dangerous problems are:
- Deterioration of cognitive functions (memory, attention, thinking), as well as coordination, speech, orientation, control and others;
- Vulnerability of the immunity;
- Overeating and overweight;
- Decrease in productivity;
- Lack of motivation;
- Bad habits and bad mood.
How Much Sleep Do You Need
The duration of sleep depends on the age. The younger the person is, the more sleep he/she needs.
The National Sleep Foundation, an American non-profit organization, makes the following recommendations:
- 0 to 3 months – 14-17 hours;
- 4 to 11 months – 12-15 hours;
- 1 year to 2 years – 11-14 hours;
- 3 to 5 years – 10-13 hours;
- 6 to 15 years – 9-11 hours;
- 14 to 17 years – 8-10 hours;
- 18 to 64 years – 7-9 hours;
- 65 years and more – 7-8 hours.
The duration of sleep directly affects physical and mental activity. However, this thing is rather personal. For example, Einstein and Schopenhauer slept for 10-12 hours a day. Honore de Balzac and Charles Darwin – for 8 hours. Sigmund Freud slept for 6 hours, and Napoleon Bonaparte preferred 4 hours sleep. Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla even practiced a polyphasic sleep, which we will discuss later.
Therefore, you should sleep for 6.5-8 hours, depending on what time is best for you.
It is easy to find out, just ask yourself:
- Do you need an alarm clock to wake up?
- Do you drink coffee or energetic drinks to remain attentive?
- Do you fall asleep during the first five minutes?
If your answers are ‘no, no, yes’, you sleep enough. If at least one of them is different, you should rearrange your sleep time.
Sleep Pattern and Cycles
The structure of human sleep pattern includes two main cycles: REM (rapid eye movement) and Non-REM sleep.
Non-REM sleep is first to come when you fall asleep. It has several cycles that take approximately 80 minutes each. During a Non-REM sleep, your breathing is calm and steady, the pressure goes down, the eyes first make slow movements, and then they are motionless; the brain is inactive, the body is relaxed. You rest and restore physical strength.
REM sleep goes after a Non-REM one and lasts for 10-20 minutes. Your body temperature and pressure rise, the heart beats faster. You are immobilized, except for the muscles responsible for heartbeat and breathing. Your eyeballs make rapid movements, so the cycle is called REM. During this period of sleep your brain actively works, so you see dreams.
Both cycles go one after another. At first, Non-REM sleep comes and takes 1.5 hours. Then starts the first REM cycle, which is no longer than 5 minutes.
These two cycles together are called sleep cycle.
As more sleep cycles come, the proportion of Non-REM sleep decreases, and a REM one increases (up to 1 hour). There are five sleep cycles in the whole night for a healthy person, which is approximately 7.5 hours.
Polyphasic vs. Monophasic Sleep
What we have been discussing is a monophasic sleep. However, there is also a polyphasic one. It is a pattern of sleep, in which the sleep time is divided into several short periods instead of a long rest once a day. At the same time, the total duration of sleep is significantly reduced, and wakefulness is increased to 20-22 hours.
There are four most popular regimes of polyphasic sleep:
- Dymaxion – sleep for 30 minutes every 6 hours.
- Uberman – sleep for 20 minutes every 4 hours.
- Everyman – 1.5-3 hours at night and three times for 20 minutes at day.
- Tesla – 2 hours at night and 20 minutes in the afternoon.
All four sleep cycles actually work, so you can get enough sleep. However, it is very harmful for your mental health to adhere to such regimes for a long time. Talking about Tesla, sleeping at his unique regime, he had a serious mental disorder at the age of 25.
When your sleep is polyphasic, your biorhythms are broken. Your brain cannot understand what is going on, as day and night are confused. Moreover, according to five sleep cycles pattern, if you sleep for 30 minutes only, your brain does not get time to rearrange the information, as there is no REM sleep.
As a result, new thoughts are not filtered and what is unnecessary is not deleted, so everything you have seen and heard in the previous day is mixed with thoughts and memories of a new one.
Therefore, you can use polyphasic sleep only for 1-2 weeks, if you need more time to work on some special project, for example. After that, return to a normal regime for at least 6 months.
How to Sleep Less
Best Time to Wake Up
We all have different regimes and it is impossible for many of us to wake up at some certain time every day. Luckily, it is important to sleep enough, but the time of waking up makes no difference, if set right.
As we have mentioned, night sleep, in general, consists of 5 cycles that take almost 8 hours. The most important are first 2-3, during which a Non-REM sleep is the most efficient.
Therefore, you should sleep for 4 cycles at least that take 6 hours approximately, or for 5 cycles (7.5 hours).
If it is hard for you to wake up each day, perhaps you try to do it when Non-REM sleep is going. During this period your brain is inactive, so an instant alarm sound makes it turn on rapidly, which, of course, is not a pleasant experience. Even though waking up during a REM sleep is easier, it may still be hard for you.
So, scientists claim that the best time to wake up is between two cycles, when REM sleep has just ended.
The problem is in finding this exact time, as it is rather personal. The best way to do it is to try waking up 30 minutes before or after your usual time. Let us consider the example, so that it was easier to understand.
Say, you go to bed at 23.00 and wake up at 7.00, feeling you had not enough sleep. Averagely, one sleep cycle takes 1.5 hours.
So, your sleep structure is:
- 23.00-0.30 – first cycle;
- 0.30-2.00 – second;
- 2.00-3.30 – third;
- 3.30-5.00 – fourth;
- 5.00-6.30 – fifth;
- 6.30-8.00 – sixth.
Therefore, you should wake up at 5.00, 6.30 or 8.00. Depending on your body, there may be a slight difference in no more than 15 minutes.
In addition, there are also some other factors that affect waking up time:
- It is a lot easier to get out of bed, when the sun is already shining. Waking up in darkness is hard for your brain.
- You should not use disturbing alarms; wake up to sounds of nature or use a light-up alarm clock.
- Try to learn to wake up by yourself, using no alarms at all. Now, as you know your sleep pattern, it should not be hard.
How to Wake Up Early
What Time Should I Go Sleep
The time of going to bed is also very important for mental and physical health. It affects your dreams during the whole night ahead, so waking up is harder if you have not fall asleep in time. Therefore, how do you find the best time to go to bed?
There are some easy tips:
- It is important to go to sleep at least before 0.00. If you fall asleep after this time, it is really hard for you to get enough rest. So, according to your sleep cycles, go to bed at 22.00, for example, and sleep to 5.30. It is better to wake up earlier in the morning than to go to bed too late.
- Calm down before sleep and go to bed only after at least 1 hour of doing nothing important. If you have just finished some hard task, your brain is still working hard on it. So, it simply cannot go to sleep.
- Go to sleep 1-2 hours after dinner. This way you will not get hungry in bed, but the most important digestive processes will already pass.
- Make a daily regime and go to bed at the same time. This way your brain will get used to it and you will be able to fall asleep within 5 minutes. Once again, it is better to go to bed earlier and wake up earlier, than to postpone your rest.
- If you have gone to bed after 0.00, try to wake up after first 2-3 sleep cycles. Do not let yourself sleep for too long, as your regime will be broken and you will not want to go to bed the next evening, when you usually do.
Sleep is a very personal thing. However, it does not mean you cannot learn it and control it. According to sleep cycles, you can actually change your time of going to bed and waking up. You just should sleep enough. The only tricky thing is to find out the duration of your sleep cycle, so spend a weekend to do it.
You are hysterically funny. Are you aware that there are people around the world working different shifts that encompass all hours, day and night. Are you aware that not everyone has a natural cycle that makes them a ‘day’ person? I worked for the same company for 32 years. I spent the first two years on swing shift, 1600-0030. The next two and a half years on graveyard, 2200-0630. I then spent just under 10 years back on swing 1400-2230. Next was six years on day shift, 0900-1800 (1 hr lunch). It was HELL. I gained 100+ pounds. I was tired and sick all the time, even catching whooping cough (pertussis) for my 40th birthday. I finally bid back to swing shift for my last 11 years, 1400-2230, and got back to my happy, healthy self, losing that 100+ lbs pretty easily, and not catching every bug and being sick all the time. I am NOT a day person. I was never a day person. My mom said I was born a night person. She should know, since she was there. It’s set by nature. Not by day people who think everyone else needs to function like they do. I did not function as well on graveyard as I did on swing, but I still preferred it to day shift. Now I’m retired, and I sleep when I’m tired, and get up when I’m rested. It just happens to still follow swing shift hours It works well for me.