Wake up feeling recharged by planning your bedtime according to sleep cycles.
Sleep is one of the most important components of wellness. When you don’t get enough sleep, you may notice that your physical and mental performance are not at their best. You may experience weight gain, digestive issues, reduced levels of productivity, the inclination to eat more unhealthy ‘comfort’ food, and an increase in negative moods such as anger, sadness, frustration and irritability.
Our bodies rely on sleep to discard waste, to repair damaged cells, and to recharge for the following day. But have you ever wondered how you can sometimes have less than five hours of sleep and wake up feeling rested while sleeping for eight hours sometimes leaves you feeling grumpy and more tired? That’s when you’ve woken up at the wrong time.
What matters most is not the number of hours you sleep but the amount of complete sleep cycles your body is allowed.
What is a sleep cycle?
According to Mayo Clinic Sleep Medicine Specialist, Dr Lois Krahn, our bodies go through different stages of sleep to carry out special functions such as clearing toxins. She says that sleep is divided into wakefulness, three types of NREM (non-rapid eye movement) sleep, and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.
A complete sleep cycle can range from 60 minutes to 120 minutes but is generally 90 minutes long and experts recommend that you allocate 15 minutes to unwind ahead of your planned sleeping time.
A sleep cycle will start with drowsiness where your body is in transition between wakefulness and sleep, followed by light sleep where your heart rate slows down, and your body temperature drops.
During the third sleep stage, your body produces slower brain waves, preparing you for the fourth stage – deep sleep, which lasts for 30 minutes.
The final stage, also known as REM sleep or the dream stage, is where your brain is most active and your muscles are most relaxed.
Calculate when to sleep
We love using the startsleeping.org calculator to estimate the number of sleep cycles we need to wake up feeling refreshed. The calculator also considers age since the amount of sleep required differs between kids and adults.
To wake up at 4 AM, it’s best to sleep at either 6.45 PM or 8.15 PM the night before.
Experts recommend getting at least 5 or 6 cycles of sleep regularly. Here’s a breakdown of recommended wake-up and sleep times.
Wake-up: Sleep: 7.5 hours (5 cycles) Sleep: 9 hours (6 cycles)
4 a.m. 8:15 p.m. 6:45 p.m.
4:15 a.m. 8:30 p.m. 7 p.m.
4:30 a.m. 8:45 p.m. 7:15 p.m.
4:45 a.m. 9:00 p.m. 7:30 p.m.
5:00 a.m. 9:15 p.m. 7:45 p.m.
5:15 a.m. 9:30 p.m. 8 p.m.
5:30 a.m. 9:45 p.m. 8:15 p.m.
5:45 a.m. 10:00 p.m. 8:30 p.m.
6:00 a.m. 10:15 p.m. 8:45 p.m.
6:15 a.m. 10:30 p.m. 9:00 p.m.
6:30 a.m. 10:45 p.m. 9:15 p.m.
6:45 a.m. 11:00 p.m. 9:30 p.m.
7:00 a.m. 11:15 p.m. 9:45 p.m.
7:15 a.m. 11:30 p.m. 10:00 p.m.
7:30 a.m. 11:45 p.m. 10:15 p.m.
7:45 a.m. 12:00 p.m. 10:30 p.m.
8:00 a.m. 12:15 a.m. 10:45 p.m.
8:15 a.m. 12:30 a.m. 11:00 p.m.
8:30 a.m. 12:45 a.m. 11:15 p.m.
8:45 a.m. 1:00 a.m. 11:30 p.m.
9:00 a.m. 1:15 a.m. 11:45 p.m.
Have a sleep schedule
Once you’ve seen the results of planning your sleep and wake-up time according to sleep cycles, it’s best to create a consistent schedule that will allow your body to form a habit, and soon you’ll be waking up without an alarm.
We suggest also remaining consistent with the number of sleep cycles you experience so that you not only feel rested but allow your body to function at its best.
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