Tip # 4
“Do not go to bed before there is a reasonable chance for you to fall asleep.” John L. Eickholt, MD
It is not a good idea to lay in bed awake. For more details on that, see Tip # 2.
Let’s look at some scenarios. If you have to wake up at 6 AM to make it to work on time, and your goal is to get 8 hours of sleep, you would need to go to bed at 10 PM. However, if you know you will not be able to fall asleep until 11:30 PM, don’t go to bed until 11:30 PM.
Why not try? Consider what would happen if you were to go to bed at 10 PM.
- You go to bed at 10 PM and lay in bed awake for 15 minutes.
- This tells your brain the bed is a place to be awake.
- You get up, per the second sleep tip, and sit quietly in a chair.
- You feel tire and hopeful, so you return to bed at 10:30 PM.
- Now you’re wide awake because you’re in bed and that’s what your brain thinks happens in bed.
- At 10:45 PM you return to the chair, where you start to feel drowsy.
- You return to bed, and once again, do not fall asleep fast enough.
- By now you are pretty mad, and feel wide awake in the chair as well.
- Convinced all the sleep tips have failed, you return to social media to perpetuate the problem even further.
- All that advice must be wrong because now it’s 12:15 AM and you are nowhere near ready for sleep. You would have been asleep by now if you hadn’t tried to go to bed early.
- Wait… that tip did say to go to bed at 11:30 PM!
Okay, what if you go to bed at 11:30 PM? What about the 8 hours of needed sleep?
- You have to wake up at 6 AM, so if you go to bed at 11:30 PM, you only get 6 and a half hours of sleep.
- You feel tired the next day. Horrible, right? Of course it’s not pleasant or ideal, but it’s still better than the previous example, which resulted in even less sleep.
- After a week of consistently falling asleep at 11:30 PM, you are ready to start going to bed at 11:15 PM, 15 minutes earlier.
- You are able to go to bed 15 minutes earlier each week until you are consistently falling asleep at 10 PM, waking up at 6 AM, getting 8 hours of sleep, and feeling great!
This may seem like a slow process, but it is progress. Each week brings less frustration and more sleep—without a bedtime battle.
Have a tough or irregular schedule? This plan will not work for every schedule, but there are other options. Contact us for custom advice.