The start of the school year is just around the corner, so it’s a great time to be thinking about establishing good habits that you can stick to for the new year or season. One of the most valuable routines to consider is the optimal sleep schedule that you’d like to set for yourself and/or your family.
1. Determine how many hours you need
To begin this process, first consider how many hours of sleep you need to get each night in order to perform your best the next day.
Doctors recommend the following:
- Preschoolers (ages 3-5) require 10-13 hours of sleep
- School-age children (ages 6-13) require 9-11 hours of sleep
- Teenagers (ages 14-17) require 8-10 hours of sleep
- Adults - 7 to 9 hours
Next, use that information to establish your ideal bedtime and wake-up time. This is important because the more you can fall asleep and wake up at the same time each day, the better you’ll be syncing your circadian rhythm - meaning a higher likelihood of more deep sleep and REM sleep, and all the health benefits associated with this.
3. Establish your pre-bedtime routine
Once you have your “goal” bedtime in mind, come up with your evening routine that puts you on the path to fall asleep at the right time. For example, if you plan to be asleep at 9:30pm and need 30 minutes to brush your teeth, wash your face, lay out your clothes, read a few pages, etc. - then make sure that at 9:00 pm you’re committed to moving into your pre-bed routine.
4. Wake up the right way
On the other side, have a plan for when you wake up. If you need an alarm - use it - but try not to have your alarm waking you up abruptly when you’re in deep sleep (this is what really leaves you feeling groggy). Ideally, you can nail your sleep schedule to the extent that you’re waking up refreshed and ready to go without an alarm, but this is a lofty goal so maybe hold off until you feel like you’re ready for “expert” status.
5. Fine tune as needed
Finally, assess and make adjustments. For example if you thought you needed 7.5 hours but you’re tired every morning, try pushing your bedtime up 15 minutes, reassess, and if you’re still tired then push up 15 minutes further and assess again.
Just like anything in life, practice makes perfect. So keep working on your sleep schedule - your dedication will pay off!
It’s also time for back-to-school shopping. Consider stocking up on new customizable pillows for you and your family to help improve the quality of your sleep.
For more information about sleep schedules, see this helpful article from Sleep Foundation here.