What time should I go to sleep?


Can’t get to sleep?


What time do you go to bed? How do you decide? Is there a better time for you?


One of the most common problems associated with insomnia and sleep anxiety is not being able to get to sleep in the first place. This can be caused by a variety of influences but I always start the discussion of bed time itself.


Some people are naturally more happy going to bed later and getting up later- this group are often termed ‘owls’. Alternatively, you may prefer to go to bed early and get up early- we can call this group ‘larks’. However, most people fall in the middle and like to go to bed not too late and get up not too early.


Of course, we may not have full control of when we go to bed as this may be decided by what time we have to get up for work etc. Many of us know the feeling of lying awake and willing ourselves to sleep as we have an early flight to catch or other early important appointment to keep! So how do we know what is the best time to go to bed.


Well, most people are aware that early humans generally wanted to get up when it was light and go to bed when it was dark. What is less well known is that, as adults, we all have a 90 minute cycle- this is our own internal clock. This clock can help us understand when we are at our most energetic and when we are at our most tired. We can use these peaks and dips to help us time activities, for example when the best time is to go to bed.


So, how can we find out what our best time is to go to bed? Unsurprisingly, a good indicator of when we are having a dip is when we start to yawn. On the other hand, the time we wake up in the morning without an alarm clock would usefully show us when our peak time might be. Of course, the best time to go to sleep will be when you are having a dip.


Let’s take the example of Helen. I asked Helen to make a note of when she started yawning in the evenings. She told me in our next session that this was around 8.30pm. That seemed a little earlier for her to go to bed so she decided to work with this 90 minute cycle and try to go to bed at the next dip, which was 10pm. For someone else, they may prefer to push it to 11.30pm or even 1am. It also meant that she could stop giving herself a hard time and trying to go to sleep at 11pm, when she was less likely to get to sleep.


Understanding our natural rhythms can help us to find the best and worst times to get to sleep. It can also help us to suffer less from sleep anxiety and insomnia. Get in touch with me if you are interested in learning more about how to get a good night’s sleep and insomnia treatment. I see people for sleep therapy online or face to face at my hypnotherapy clinics in Whitstable, Kent or Harley Street, London.


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