A great day starts with a great night. Do you have a bedtime routine? The first step toward establishing a good routine is deciding when you should go to bed. There are a couple of things to consider here. Your weekly routine is part of it, as is how much sleep you need per night. Let’s look at these things and discuss how you can use them to guide you toward a good bedtime for yourself.
Look at your weekly schedule. Is there a certain time you have to get up? Most of us have to go to work or get the kids to school. Start with when you know you have to leave the house. From there, think about how long it takes you to get ready. Are there any morning routines that will take additional time? Do you have to get other people ready, fix breakfast for everyone, or start a load of laundry before you leave the house? Add all that time up and come up with an estimate of when you need to wake up to get it all done.
I’m calling this an estimate, because if you don’t currently have a good routine and are winging it, your first guess might be off by a little. That’s okay. As long as you’re in the ballpark, it won’t be hard to make a few adjustments.
The next question is what do you do if your schedule changes from day to day, or what do you do about the weekends when you don’t have to be anywhere at a given time. It’s a good question and the answer is simple. You want to get into the habit of waking up at the same time each day. That means you want that time to be the earliest you have to get up during the week. If that means getting out of bed at six every morning, then that’s the time you want to pick. It may not sound like a lot of fun, especially if you’re struggling to get up that early right now, but there’s a reason for it. It will become routine and after a few weeks of getting up at six every day without fail, it will be easy. Trust the process and give it a try.
Next, decide how many hours of sleep you need per night. Most people need between seven and nine hours. If you're not sure the optimal number of hours of sleep you personally need try starting with 8 hours and go from there. Let’s stick with the six am wakeup example. To get eight hours of sleep, you need to fall asleep by ten pm at night. Since none of us can put our head on the pillow and fall asleep, a good bedtime would be nine thirty.
Now it’s your turn. What’s the earliest you need to get up? Subtract eight and a half hours from that time and make it your regular bedtime for a week or two. How does that feel? If you consistently wake up well before your alarm, you may only need seven hours of sleep. If you still feel tired after establishing your bedtime routine, you may want to try giving yourself an extra half an hour of sleep and see if you do better with that. Above all, stick to going to bed and getting up at the same time each day - even on the weekend and when you’re on vacation. Your body and mind will thank you.
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