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Consistent Sleep Schedules: Not Just for Babies Anymore

sleep journals help with sleep schedulesSLEEP MAY BE the one thing you get daily, but it never seems like enough. The time you sleep is just as important as the quantity or quality. With these tips, you can uncover how to invite your inner child to get a better night’s rest once again.

Why Should We Keep a Consistent Sleep Schedule?

Your body sleeps in cycles. If you have raised children, you know that babies often wake at the end of a sleep cycle. Adults have sleep cycles and may also wake at the end of a cycle.

Sleep cycles average about 1.5-2 hours, and contain a combination of light sleep and deep sleep (non-rapid-eye movement or NREM sleep), as well as rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep.

When allowed to set and keep their own routines, all animals create a sleep schedule that works for them. Experts recommend an average of 7-8 hours a night for adults. However, you may find that you operate better on less, or that you need more.

What Happens if We Don’t Have a Sleep Routine?

The reason that different people have unique sleep needs has to do with those sleep cycles. Your body expects to have a certain number of cycles each night. This is why you may feel better on less sleep, assuming that you woke up right at the end of a cycle. (This is the premise of Verlo’s new sleep monitor and smart alarm clock called SmartWake.)

If you interrupt sleep in the middle of the cycle, or give your body an unpredictable number each night, your health will suffer. Initially, you will find it hard to focus, and will start to rely more on alertness aids like coffee or energy drinks. Long-term, you become more susceptible to illnesses. Allowing yourself the ability to get the same amount of sleep each night, at the same time, is the best thing you can do for your sleep health.

Do Adults and Kids Need Sleep Schedules?

Sleep cycles and sleep schedulesA lot of parenting happens during the night, in helping to create and promote good sleep routines foryour child. The trouble is that adults need it just as much as kids do. Researchers have found that when children are given the opportunity to get a good night’s sleep each night, they are less likely to sleep longer on the weekends. It is not until they are teenagers that the social convention of sleeping in on days off outweighs their biological need. The trouble is that trying to catch up on a sleep debt on the weekends just upsets your routine. If you need to get up at 7 a.m. five days a week, sleeping until nine or 10 just makes your Monday morning that much more of a nightmare.

How Do I Create a Sleep Routine?

Sticking to a regular sleep routine could put a crimp in your social life., but chronic lack of sleep doesn’t help you make friends, either. Here’s how to start your sleep routine:

    • Figure out how much sleep you need each night to feel truly rested, not just enough to get by.
    • Write in a sleep diary for at least a few weeks, describing the amount and quality of sleep you got and how you felt the next day.
    • Once you have a good average in mind, try to go to sleep early enough that you wake on your own. That way, your alarm clock does not interrupt a sleep cycle.

Sleeping like a baby may not sound very fun, but there is a lot of wisdom in it. When you respect your sleep cycles and create a consistent sleep schedule, you will feel better all around.

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