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Find Your Ideal Sleep Schedule

oura sleep Dec 20, 2022

Find Your Ideal Sleep Schedule


“You’ll feel better after a good night’s sleep.”


That’s what you tell a friend or family member who's not feeling well, or after a challenging event.


it might be an "old folk remedy", but surprise! It’s also true!


That’s because the restorative benefit of a good night’s sleep does indeed make you feel better. In fact, it helps you:

✅ Make better food choices

✅ Have more physical and mental energy for exercise and work

✅ More effectively manage your stress and emotions 

(Just for starters.)


And in turn, each of those factors can contribute to better sleep. 


So instead of a vicious cycle that makes life harder, adequate shuteye sparks a virtuous cycle that makes life better


There’s a problem, though.


Many folks struggle with sleep. 


They say they’re always tired no matter what they do. Plus, they’ve tried everything—gravity blankets, sleep trackers, supplements—and nothing seems to help.


There’s no one single fix for all poor sleepers, but the place many people should start is with their sleep schedule.


While that might sound obvious, if you haven’t been intentional about this, you could find it helpful.


The first step: 


Figure out how many hours of sleep you personally need. That’d generally be the amount that allows you to wake up without an alarm clock feeling well rested.


If you’re not sure about that amount, you could start with 7-8 hours. 


Now count backward from the time you want to wake up. That’s your bedtime, and yes, it’s THAT simple to calculate.


You’ll want to stick to this schedule as much as you can, including on the weekends.

What does that mean? It means try to keep it to 1/2 hour on either side of your usual bedtime.


That’s because after a good night’s sleep, most people need to be awake around 16 hours before they feel sleepy. So if you get up later than usual, you might struggle to go to bed at your scheduled time. 


(BTW, this advice comes directly from Dr. Jennifer Martin, President of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.)


Fair Warning:


This may come with tradeoffs you don’t like—such as going to bed earlier and not sleeping in on your days off. 


But it’s been known to work wonders for people. 


Of course, if it’s a monumental change to what you’re currently doing, it may feel impossible to make it work.


So instead of going straight to “ideal,” start with doable. 


Create a sleep schedule you think you can stick to 6 out of 7 nights a week, and put it to this test:


On a scale of 0 (no way!) to 10 (so easy it’s laughable), rank your confidence you’ll follow through—and only proceed when you get to a 9 or 10.


Do that for at least two weeks, and if you have success, try to improve on it over time. And if you don’t, scale back and try again. 


Sweet dreams!


Source: Precision Nutrition

Getting the hours and time is the beginning to better health.

Once you get those consistant, you can begin to optimize your sleep and maybe once you do that, you won't feel as tired during the day or need as many hours sleeping.

There are 4 stages of sleep, and we need a balance of all 4 to help us perform at our best.

Here is a quick lesson on sleep.

The 4 sleep stages are:

1. Awake

2. Light sleep

3. Deep sleep

4. REM (Rapid Eye Movement)

We usually don't remember the moments right before we fall asleep.  These kinds of "unconscious wakeful" periods happen throughout the night as well.

Light sleep starts each sleep cycle. As you drift off, your breathing and heart rate slow down, guiding you into deeper stages of sleep.

During deep sleep your body repairs itself, supporting growth, restoration, and immune health. BONUS: this stage is important to help keep appetite hormones in balance.

REM sleep is awesome! It supports memory, creativity, and emotional regulation.  This is usually when you dream.

During a full night of sleep you typically cycle through these stages 4-5 times, each taking ~90 minutes to complete.

You tend to get more deep sleep in earlier cycles, and more REM sleep in later cycles.

Each sleep stage provides important fuel for your body and mind. Prioritizing sleep can help improve how you feel, heal, learn and perform.

I use an Oura ring to measure my sleep and stages. Here is what a good night sleep looks like.

Source: Oura 

Medical Disclaimer: All information shared is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not meant to diagnose, treat or replace the care of your medical professional.

Gathering data and measuring might help you to make change too. 

I know this first hand, as when I was in deep stress, my sleep was the first thing to go. I was often waking in the middle of the night and awake for 2-3 hours ruminating over my stress! It impacted my ability to function big time!  It impacted my blood sugar (hormones) and my energy.  

I worked hard to make changes to improve my sleep (I used a sleep tracker), and eventually was successful.

Now, my sleep score is usually 90 or above.

I have energy, wake without an alarm, and my blood sugar and weight are healthy. 

Not to mention, recently, I was able to take and pass my 4 hour board certification exam - so brain performance is great!

If you would like to learn more about sleep, stress and recovery, let me know. 

It is one of the important pillars of health, and learning more about how it can support your health goals may help motivate you to start making changes.

... And to all a good-night!

Happy Holidays!


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