MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — This time of year, we think a lot about putting our kids to sleep on time, but what about the adults? Do they have an ideal bedtime?
“The best bedtime is different for every person,” said Dr. Michael Howell, a sleep specialist with the University of Minnesota. “But all of us do have an ideal bed time in which we fall asleep as well as to wake up.”
Howell says the best way to figure out your natural bed time to wake up naturally, without an alarm clock or kids, and subtract eight hours if you’re an adult, nine hours for teenagers and ten hours for children.
Most adults fall asleep between 10 p.m. and midnight, but 1/3 of people wait until after midnight to hit the sack.
“I usually watch Criminal Minds before I go to bed,” said Anna Hickey of Minneapolis. “And then I need to stay up another hour before I can calm down.”
Howell recommends eight hours for adults and says starting sleep at 10 p.m. is better than at 2 a.m.
“In general, you sleep better if you’re sleeping in darkness hours,” he said. “The body naturally evolved over millions of years to sleep when it’s dark and then when the sun comes out, start waking up.”
Our deep sleep generally happens more in the beginning of our slumber, with the restless, dream-filled sleep dominating towards the end.
“If it turns out your natural bedtime is 2 in the morning, that’s going to be a big problem unless you have blackout curtains, you’re going to be exposed to sunlight in the morning and that’s going to be interfering with important rest,” he said.
Ideally, he suggests identifying your sleep window and then not exposing yourself to sunlight. If that’s hard to do because of work or kids, you can change your natural circadian rhythms over time. He says it’s better to try to do that in the morning by gradually waking up a half-hour earlier and exposing yourself to sunlight.
“The trick isn’t to force yourself to sleep at night, but to work on it in the morning.”