Have you ever gone to sleep for a good 8 hours and still felt tired upon awakening? Have you ever gotten sick as a result of a lack of sleep? Are you just feeling tired today? If you answered YES to any of these questions you may not be following your natural sleep cycle.
According to Paul Chek in his book, “How to Eat Move and Be Healthy,” and the research of Corina Lunn in her article, “The Effects of Massage on Sleep and Circadian Rhythms,” the proper time to go to bed is 10pm. It is between 10pm and 2am when most of the physical repair of the body takes place. The period from 2am to 6am is predominately for psychological repair.
There is a primary hormone in our body called cortisol. This hormone follows a 24-hour cycle and tells our body when we should be active and when we should be at rest. Cortisol levels peak as the sun rises and taper off as the sun sets. It is about 3 hours after sunset when this hormone tapers off that it is ideal to go to bed. This gives us the opportunity to take full advantage of our natural sleep cycle by sleeping when our body needs it most.
One misconception is that if we go to bed at midnight our body will naturally start the cycle of physical repair from the beginning. This isn’t true. As a result of going to bed at midnight, one would only give his or her body from 12 am to 2 am to repair itself physically. Many people go to bed at 2 am and don’t give their body any opportunity to repair itself. This contributes to fatigue upon awakening, a weakened immune system, illness, and disease.
Rachel Hott, psychologist at the NLP Center of New York, interviewed four healthy people who indicated that they normally get a good night’s rest. One of the characteristics that was common among the four was that they went to bed at between 10 pm and 11 pm.
The following are my 5 key tips to have a better night’s sleep:
1. Get to bed by at least 10:30 pm. If you need time to fall asleep, adjust yourself appropriately.
2. Sleep in a room that is completely dark.
3. Avoid stimulants (caffeine, energy drinks, and nicotine) after lunch. These stimulants can effect your ability to fall asleep when it is bedtime.
4. Minimize your exposure to bright lights for at least 2 hours before it is time to go to sleep.
5. Drink plenty of water. A dehydrated body causes stress that could awaken you at night.