While many of us worry that we won’t be able to function after a late night, a sleep expert has revealed that your wake up time is actually more important then when you hit the hay
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It’s a common fear that a late bedtime will impact your ability to function the following day, but a sleep expert has warned against going to bed early if you’re worried about not getting enough sleep.
Sleep physiologist Stephanie Romiszewski advises to wait until you feel sleepy to hit the hay – even if this takes you past midnight.
This routine won’t make you more tired in the long-run, providing you wake up at the same time every day, she explained.
Stephanie said: “If you aren’t sleepy until a little bit later, it’ll be totally okay for you to give yourself a bit of permission to stay up a bit late and really build that strong drive to sleep.
“That drive is going to take you through your entire night much more soundly than if you go to bed when you’re not sleepy, when you go to a room that’s completely pitch black but you’re completely wide awake.
“You start to get anxious, you start to get a bit stressed, you start to have that repetitive thinking, your heart rate goes up, your temperature goes up.
“And before you know it, your physiological state is completely the opposite to what you need in order to even start to feel that sleepiness.
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“So not only did you not feel sleepiness to start with, but you’ve actually pushed it away.”
The sleep expert, who runs The Sleepyhead Clinic in Exeter, urges you to get ready for bed earlier in the evening.
This could include having a shower, brushing your teeth, or relaxing with a book.
“Then when you’re feeling that wonderful sleepiness, you’re just going to take yourself to bed and then hopefully you’ll have a much easier transition into sleep, and you’re more likely to stay asleep,” Stephanie explained.
For night owls who may be wondering, ‘won’t I be exhausted if I go to sleep whenever I want?’
Stephanie says that it is normal to feel sleepy and explained that a relaxing bed-time can actually help you sleep better.
She added: “Don’t compensate for that lack of sleep that you’re building up [by going to bed later] by having a nap.
“Move on with your day and you should find within a few days, your body has no other choice but to actually make you sleepy earlier.
“Eventually, you should start feeling sleepy earlier.”
It is important to aim for a consistent wake-up time, even on weekends, claims Stephanie.
She said: “What you want to start doing is waking up at the same time every day and still giving yourself permission to go to bed later.
“Everybody believes that their evening time is going to be much more influential to how sleepy they feel.
“But you cannot build sleepiness over a couple of hours. It starts from the morning.”
A set wake-up time helps to fine-tune the body clock, which dictates our metabolism and when we feel tired.
If the routine is kept the same every day, our body gradually gets better at producing hormones that make us hungry, sleepy or perky.
Stephanie said: “Even if you’ve had a bad night, the fact that you’re waking up at the same time, and you are reinforcing that time with light exposure, you’re going to feel better regardless of whether you slept well because your body is used to it.
“That’s how powerful waking up at the same time is.”
The sleep physiologist recommends daylight as soon as you wake up to help you get going in the morning.
Some light exercise, such as walking to work, and eating something will also reinforce to the body that it’s time to be awake.