I woke up this morning at 7:44, with no alarm, just like yesterday. This corresponds to me going to bed around midnight (or around 1 last night) so I’d like to take a minute or two to discuss my sleeping habits and how they play into my new routine.
I’m drawing heavily on two articles I read online about sleep, so if you want the verbose version, check these out:
First, it’s a complete misconception that more sleep equals better sleep. While it’s true that you may be more rested after a night’s sleep than an hour’s, the restfulness of resting correlates more closely to the uninterruptedness of your multiple sleep cycles. A sleep cycle is roughly ninety minutes, so the time you sleep should fall on a ninety-minute interval. So 7.5 hours of sleep is a better target than 8, although 6 would really be better. Studies have been conducted that people who sleep more than eight hours a night die earlier than people who sleep less.
Second, if you need an alarm clock to wake up, you’re not getting enough sleep. Or you’re not successfully completing those sleep cycles. There’s a period of very light sleep at the end of each cycle where you’re not really asleep, but you’re in this intermediary twilight zone. If there’s a stimulus like a loud noise, a sudden bright light, or even a full bladder during this period, you’ll wake up. If you’re disturbed during your sleep cycle, then the whole night will be floating along in that twilight zone, and you won’t really get rested.
The way to enjoy a good night’s sleep is to keep your bed dedicated for sleeping. This protects that psychological and physical space I spoke of earlier and will keep you from being too distracted. Make sure the bedroom is dark and cool when you go to bed and try not to use an alarm clock. If you find you can’t sleep, don’t try to fight it. Just get up, go to another room, and read for a bit with some low lighting until you feel sleepy. Try to get up at the same time every day by planning your bedtime around those 90-minute increments. If you know you want to wake up at six, you know you should go to bed at either 10:30 or midnight. In the morning, there will be at least one instance where you will wake up on your own (I usually choose this point to foolishly go back to sleep) and that’s exactly when I recommend you sit up in bed, if not stand up entirely.
Since I started my new routine, I’ve been getting about 6-7.5 hours of sleep each night. Last night was harder to keep consistent with my scheduling because I worked until 11:30, but I was still able to wake up around the same time. It’s obviously much easier to maintain a consistent sleep schedule if you have a consistent work schedule too.