What’s The Best Time To Go To Bed?

5 min read

Last Modified 26 November 2021 First Added 26 November 2021

By Nicholas Barber

A new study has identified a “golden hour” between 10pm and 11pm as the ideal time to fall asleep. Researchers discovered both the quantity and quality of our slumber plays a vital role in all aspects of our health. People who nod off during this golden hour have less risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke than those who go to bed outside it, their report suggests.

Let’s take a closer look at what we all need to understand about this golden hour sweet spot for sleep in order to improve our own health.

How much sleep do I need?

You’ll find that the best bedtime for you is dependent on how much sleep you need, which is different for each person, and especially so across different age groups.

This table shows how much sleep is required according to how old you are.

Age Hours of sleep
0–3 months 14–17
4 months to 2 years 11–16
3–5 years 10–13
6–13 years 9–12
14–17 years 8–10
18–64 years 7–9
65 years and over 7–8

 

The importance of getting enough sleep each and every night is becoming increasingly clear. You should be able to decide for yourself the length of sleep you need, but most people need somewhere around eight hours sleep a night.

The best time to go to bed

Our natural cardician rhythm is based around the sun coming up and going down, and so aligning your bedtime to your rhythm is a great idea, but not always possible. Your daily routine and the time you need to be up dressed and ready for work, school or university will determine the time you need to wake up. Likewise, this affects what time you should go to bed in order to ensure you get the correct amount of sleep.

If we go to sleep at very different times than we are used to it disrupts our internal body clock. During the various Covid lockdowns, lots of us were watching Netflix or glued to social media and going to bed later, which pushed our circadian rhythm out of sync and led to more disturbed sleep.

To calculate the best time for you to go to bed you can simply detract eight hours from the time it’s necessary to wake up.

Wake-up time Best bedtime
5am 9pm
6am 10pm
7am 11pm
8am 12 o’clock

 

Related: 10 Tips For A Better Night’s Sleep And Avoiding Insomnia

The Golden Hour

The research findings published in the European Heart journal Digital Health, used data from 88,000 UK Biobank participants aged between 43 and 74. They answered questions about their lifestyle and wore a wrist accelerometer which recorded their times of sleep and waking.

Over the next six years, 3,172 of them developed heart and circulatory disease. The occurrences were most common among people with sleep times at or past midnight and lowest among those who fell asleep between 10pm and 10:59pm.

Because the “golden hour” for falling asleep is between 10pm and 11pm this means the best time to wake up is between 6am and 7am. Although this may not be possible for everyone’s routines, the most important thing is that you get the correct amount of sleep. If you struggle to wake up between these times, here’s some advice that may help you to do so.

How to ensure you go to bed at the best time

Set a really good bedtime routine

During the hour before you go to bed switch off your television and devices, including tablets and laptops, to avoid mental stimulation.

You may also find it helpful for your bedtime routine to include calming activities such as taking a warm bath, reading a book or magazine, writing a diary, or some form of meditation. Your mind starts winding down for sleep a few hours before bedtime as part of your natural sleep-wake cycle so use your bedtime routine to make that process more effective.

Stick your bed-time and wake-up times every day. According to the Sleep Foundation, following a consistent sleep routine helps train your brain to naturally feel tired when it’s bedtime.

 

Put down the phone

The blue light emitted by your mobile phone and tablets stops your body from producing melatonin. This is a hormone that your body starts producing when natural light reduces during the evening. Blue light stops this hormone from being produced, which stops you from getting sleepy. Set a time to stop looking at your phone in order to prevent it from interfering with your falling asleep time, or you may even decide to banish it from the bedroom completely.

The sweet spot for sleep

In conclusion, perhaps the most important takeaway from this study is that we all need to give ourselves a proper bedtime, around 10pm to 11pm and certainly before the midnight hour.

Regina Giblin, British Heart Foundation senior cardiac nurse, said: “This large study suggests that going to sleep between 10 and 11pm could be the sweet spot for most people to keep their heart healthy long-term.

“However, it’s important to remember that this study can only show an association and can’t prove cause and effect.”

For more information about how you can improve your sleep health see our guide to establishing an evening routine.

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