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How a Bedtime Calculator Can Help You Sleep Better
When people talk about getting good sleep, they usually mean enough uninterrupted hours. But what they don’t know is that the precise times you go to bed and wake up are just as important to feeling well-rested.
Our sleep goes in cycles of two phases: non-REM and REM (which stands for Rapid Eye Movement). In normal, healthy adults (those without sleep disorders like insomnia) the sleep cycle begins with non-REM sleep, of which there are three stages. Stage 1 is near-wakefulness. when your eyes are closed but you can be easily woken; this lasts only about 10 minutes. Stage 2 is a light sleep, where your breathing starts to slow and your body temperature drops to prepare you for deep sleep. Stage 3 is the deepest sleep, when your body repairs itself and recharges. Being woken from this stage is difficult, and if you are, you’ll feel disoriented.
REM sleep comes afters deep sleep. It’s so named because the eyes are moving quite a lot, indicating brain activity; this is when your dreams happens. REM cycles start short—the first of the night might be only 10 minutes—but deepen as you move through the night. That’s why the dreams we often remember are right before we wake up—it’s the longest period of dreaming, and the last cycle of sleep. Interestingly, our body becomes effectively paralyzed during REM sleep; most believe to prevent us from acting out the hallucinogens that our brain goes through in this active state.
Like most cycles, it’s best to let your sleep cycles finish before interrupting, and to ensure you have time to get a few of them in throughout the night. Interrupting a cycle causes disorientation and doesn’t allow the body to get equal amounts of rest and activity. Your body needs both. Deep sleep allows our brain to turn off and recharge—scientists says it’s a “quiet brain in a waking body” because we often roll over, though we aren’t aware of it. And REM sleep lets the body shut down when the brain is free to roam, uninhibited by our wakeful, controlling mind. Having enough of both, and allowing each cycle to complete before interruption, ensures you awake feeling fully rested.
So, how do you make sure not to interrupt your sleep cycles? You can count backwards from the time of your wake up alarm, or forward from the time you go to bed, to let your sleep cycles run in full. But, that can get complicated every night. So, we’ve created a Bedtime Calculator to help. Enter what time you want to wake up in the morning, and it will show a range of optimal times to go to bed. Or, enter the number of hours of sleep you want, and it will show times to go to bed and to set your alarm. That way, you get your optimal number of hours… and wake feeling refreshed every time. Try the Bedtime Calculator here, and sleep tight!