Is There an Ideal Bedtime?

Is there such a thing as an ideal bedtime? Or is there an optimal quantity and quality of sleep that each person needs each night? There is no single answer to these questions, but experts agree that good quality sleep for a sufficient period of time is important to daily functioning.1-5

The right bedtime is different for every person. Most people sleep when it is convenient for their personal lives. It could depend on their job, family needs, and social activities. It is common to go to sleep at a time that is based on a necessary wake up time, depending on responsibilities like going to work or school, walking the dog, or taking care of family members.1,4


Some people have trouble falling or staying asleep. This is known as insomnia. It can last for a few days, weeks, months, or longer. Difficulty sleeping can be caused by many things including stress, pain, or worry. Among others, symptoms can include lack of energy, trouble concentrating, and mood changes. Insomnia can interfere with getting the right amount of good quality sleep.

The right amount of sleep

Some people go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. Others have no particular sleep schedule. But the experts agree that adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Teens and children need more; 9 to 10 hours.2,4

There are 4 stages of sleep, divided into 2 types: REM and non-REM. Each night you cycle through all of these stages. If you get too few hours of sleep, you may not get enough non-REM sleep. This kind of sleep is responsible for restfulness, feeling refreshed. It is when your body relaxes, and heart rate and breathing slow down.3-5

Good sleep habits

Do you wake up on your own feeling well-rested and ready for each new day? Consistent sleep habits may improve sleep quality. Some common recommendations include relaxation before bed, limited screen time, and reduced noise and light in the bedroom.3

Studies report that people who go to bed between 8 PM and midnight generally have fewer problems sleeping and better daytime functioning. This time period is often called a sleep window. Most adults fall asleep between 10 PM and midnight. Roughly one-third of adults don’t go to bed until after midnight.1,2,4

Each person has their own internal clock. Called a circadian rhythm, it regulates the body’s sleep-wake cycle, hunger, and other biological processes. If you have trouble sleeping you may need to adjust your internal clock by slowly changing your bedtime window. This should be planned with your needed wake-up time. You can experiment by varying your bedtime depending on whether you lie in bed awake unable to fall asleep or whether you wake up too early.2,5

What is a sleep calculator?

A sleep calculator helps you determine how much sleep you need; when you should go to sleep based on what time you need to wake up. The sleep calculator helps people to target their ideal bedtime.3

Getting the right amount of quality sleep can help you to wake up naturally; without setting an alarm. To calculate an optimal adult bedtime, subtract eight hours from the time you need to wake up. For example, if you need to be up at 7 AM, try going to bed at 11 PM.1-5

Keep sleep times consistent

It is important to keep your internal clock on schedule. This means ideally going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, whether it is a workday, a day off, or vacation. This plan can help to improve overall sleep and health. It can make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. This is hard for many people to do because of the desire to sleep in on days off or during vacation time.2,3

The time you go to bed is usually discretionary, you can freely decide when you want or need to sleep.3 A nightly sleep routine can improve the quality of rest and may include:

  • Go to bed at the same time each day
  • Nightly rituals before bed
  • Prepare the bedroom for sleeping not for other activities
  • Turn off all electronics and screens
  • Use the bed for sleep and intimacy

Quality sleep plays an important role in physical and mental health. Your wellbeing when you are awake depends in part on your sleep.

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