should you actually go to bed by 10pm?
Sleep expert Olivia Arezzolo explains how forcing yourself to be in bed by 10pm could actually be counterproductive to your rest and circadian rhythm – plus, who should in fact stick to an early bedtime.
Sleep: it’s free. And we all want more of it, so why is it so hard to get? Specifically – that consistent, restorative, uninterrupted, eight-hours-a-night kinda sleep. Which is why we’ve enlisted Sydney-based sleep expert Olivia Arezzolo to solve our myriad of sleep concerns with our new editorial series Sleep Well Wednesdays. Check back each week and you’ll be off to the land of nod before you know it.
Sleeping before 10pm – it’s touted as the best for deep sleep, and you’ve probably heard you should be doing it.
Well, night owls, I’m going to share something you’re going to love to hear: that time doesn’t apply to you. Similarly, those with sleeping problems should also avoid such an early bedtime.
And on today’s instalment of Sleep Well Wednesdays, I’m going to share exactly why.
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So wait… we SHOULDN’T be in bed by 10pm?
If you’re naturally inclined to go to bed later – as in the case of sleep chronotypes dolphins, wolves and possibly even some bears – going to bed at this time is misaligned with your circadian rhythm.
Consequently, if you do try and go to bed, studies show you’re more likely to experience bedtime anxiety – mental rumination, restlessness, and an inability to fall asleep, waking up at 3am even.
Furthermore, you’ll create an unhealthy relationship with sleep, and are likely to experience further sleeping (and anxiety) issues: 44 percent of insomniacs have clinically significant anxiety prior to their sleep disorder.
So who should go to sleep at 10pm?
The lion chronotype – and lions alone.
And you may not know your sleep personality, but you may be familiar with the terms ‘early bird’ or ‘morning lark’ – and that’s you.
Biologically, they are ready to go to bed at that time, so will naturally fall asleep with ease.
And what about the rest of us?
It depends on your biological rhythm.
Wolves – those who by choice – would probably rise at 9am, should be in bed by 11pm, no later. This is the closest match between social requirements (e.g. most of us need to wake at 7am or 7:30am for work) and their innate preferences.
Wolves, though tempting, make sure you go bed then please: studies show those sleeping less than 6.75 hours per night are 73 percent more likely to fall asleep during the day from fatigue, compared to those sleeping 6.75-7.5 hours.
Bears, who naturally rise around 7am, should aim to be asleep by 10:30pm. However, go to bed at 10 if you’re using a phone last thing – research shows by doing so you are 48 percent more likely to take over 60 minutes to fall asleep.
Dolphins – aka typical insomniacs – you also need to sleep by 11pm, but it will probably be harder for you than others. With that in mind, be sure to practice my bedtime routine so you can fall asleep with greater ease.
Right. And is there any advantage of sleeping at 10pm then?
Yes – it helps you spend more time in slow-wave sleep – critical for physical health.
Clinical trials indicate 70 percent of growth hormone is produced here – enabling cellular repair and ensuring you feel refreshed in the morning.
Conversely, post 3am, your sleep cycles shift slightly, and you spend more time in REM sleep – the stage associated with memory formation and emotional stability, and less so with physical energy.
Hence, if waking up fresh, fatigue-free and fighting fit for another day is on the cards for you, sleeping at 10 is ideal for some, while sleeping at 1030 or 11 is better for others – just depends on your circadian typology.
Olivia Arezzolo is a sleep expert who holds a Bachelor of Social Science (Psychology); certificate of Sleep Psychology, diploma of Health Science (Nutritional Medicine); Certificate of Fitness III + IV. You can find her online here.