How To Figure Out Your Bedtime

Not getting enough sleep is a pretty bad problem. Overall, it makes us die earlier, but the specifics of why are that it makes the body feel stressed, which in turn runs down the immune system and makes us fat from stress eating. Sleep is more important than food: you can go for weeks without food, but you’ll go crazy without sleep in a few days. And conversely, getting enough sleep will make your brain work better.

Well, just dandy. I’ll try to get more sleep. Except that’s much easier said than done, like “I’ll lose weight” or “I’ll be charming”. The goal is so lofty, that you need a plan, with specific steps that you follow somewhat religiously, or else failure is all but assured. Luckily for you, The Insomnia Blog came up with just such a plan:

  1. First, you need at least 7.5 hours of sleep per night. No, you are not a special robot that needs less. You can make-do with less, like anorexics can make do with less food, but you’ll die quicker.
  2. Figure out when you have to wake up most days. That is, figure out when you need to start working, subtract your commute time, your morning routi… you can just divine this on your own. And if you’re special, rich or a bum and don’t need to wake up at any particular time, then just make sure you sleep in long enough and stop reading this recipe.
  3. Subtract 8 hours from the wake-up time, and that’s your bedtime. Yes, you now have a bedtime, as if you were 12.
  4. Set an alarm for the bedtime. Respect it. When it goes off, turn off the TV or whatever you were doing, and go to bed.
  5. Hopefully you’ll fall asleep within a half hour, get 7.5 hours of sleep and wake up refreshed at the end of your fifth 90-minute REM cycle just before your alarm goes off.
  6. If you still didn’t wake up before your alarm, your bedtime is too late. Set it 15 minutes earlier the next night, and repeat until you get enough sleep and wake up on your own.

But if you can’t fall asleep, there are some increasingly expensive tricks you can try:

  • No caffeine a few hours before bedtime.
  • Dim the lights a couple of hours before bedtime, to trick your brain into thinking it’s night. Which it actually would be, if not for Edison and his damned practical light bulb.
  • Turn off screens sometime before bedtime. Same theory as above: TV makes all kinds of light and noise, and so do computers and TouchPads.
  • Drink warm milk before bed. Even though milk is disgusting, sometimes the cost is worth the benefit.
  • Make yourself cold. Your body makes you go to sleep in part by lowering your body temperature (which is why you need to sleep with a blanket, in the fetal position or both, but when you’re awake you don’t need either), so do what you can to help it out. The most important thing to keep cool is your head, both literally and figuratively. The easy solution is to not wear a sleeping cap, but also turn down the A/C, get a cooling pillow, take a cold shower, make a snow angel, etc.
  • When you’re in bed, start going over the events of the day in your head. It’s kind of like counting sheep, but not as annoying.

From The Insomnia Blog, via Lifehacker

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