Children have a fixed bedtime and we know that they need their allotment of sleep. We as adults pack them off to bed when it's time to go down. While most adults just go to bed whenever they feel like it.
The problem with this approach is that it's just too easy to stay up later than we have to. The TV, the internet, your email, your book -- these distractions keep you alert beyond the point at which you should head to bed. Many of us know we ought to go to sleep sooner, and yet, we can't manage to pull it off.
Here's a suggestion: Give yourself a bedtime. Even if you don't actually go to bed on time, at the very least, you should know that you're "staying up past your bedtime." Just the realization that it's an hour past your "bedtime" might nudge yourself into your bed. It's been said that most adults should get 7-8 hours of sleep each night, so do the math.
I get up at 9:00 am, which means my bedtime is 11:30 pm. When I first gave myself a bedtime, I was in the habit of going to bed around 1:00 am or later. I thought that was an appropriate grown-up bedtime. Well, it's not if you're a grown-up who gets up at 9:00!
For me, at least, getting more sleep was a habit that was self-reinforcing. I felt so, so much better when I started getting enough sleep that it was very easy to adhere to that bedtime -- even though I do regret the loss of those leisure hours.
Signs that you're not getting enough sleep
- You're jolted out of sleep by your alarm clock every morning
- You fall asleep any time you find yourself in a quiet, still place
- You binge-sleep on the weekends
- You feel exhausted all the time
- The eve of Daylight Savings (Autumnal Equinox) is your favorite night, and you feel amazing after that extra hour
Do you have a regular bedtime, or not? If so, how much sleep do you get, and when do you turn off the light and shut the laptop?