We all know how frustrating it is to feel dragged down after a night of tossing and turning in bed. But what about those mornings when you actually get a decent amount of sleep and still can’t shake that groggy feeling? According to a doctor, we just need to schedule our bedtime a little differently to finally wake up feeling refreshed.
It’s not about trying to hit the sack earlier to improve our chances of more snooze-filled hours. Dr. Karan Raj, a surgeon for the UK National Health Services, shared a trick that should help no matter what time you prefer to go to sleep.
“Every night, your brain moves through several sleep cycles. Each cycle starts with light sleep, then you enter deep sleep, then dream, and back to light,” Dr. Raj explained in a TikTok video. “Each of these cycles is around 90 minutes. You’ll feel most refreshed if you wake up at the end of one of these 90 minute cycles because you’re closest to your normal waking state.”
With that in mind, he recommends working backwards in 90 minute increments from the time you want to wake up in order to discover the best time to go to bed. This way, you’ll hopefully be more likely to wake up at the end of one of those blocks.
Take a look at the clip to hear more:
Experts from the Sleep Charity (also in the UK) back Dr. Raj’s tip up, but add that most of us should aim to go through five of those 90 minute sleep cycles each night for optimal rest. They therefore recommend multiplying 90 times five, which will give us 7.5 hours of sleep.
If you’re someone who can thrive on a little less sleep, you can try for four cycles for six hours of sleep — or if you need more, try six cycles and nine hours of sleep. Everyone is different, so it’s about finding the right balance of cycles your own individual needs.
The organization gives an example of someone who wants to wake up at 7 am after five 90 minute sleep cycles. Working back, that means you’ll need to fall asleep by 11:30 pm the night before. Don’t want to do the math for your own preferred wake up time? No worries, they also offer a sleep calculator to help make things easy for everyone.
Healthline suggests another great way to use the 90 minute cycle: Simply set two alarms, one that’s 90 minutes before you really want to wake up and the other at your normal time. If you fall right back to sleep after stopping the first alarm, it will start a fresh sleep cycle that wakes you up at the end feeling refreshed instead of the up and down of a typical snoozed alarm that goes off every few minutes.
Of course, none of the experts can guarantee we will fall asleep at exactly the right time to wake up at the end of one of a sleep cycle. These tips just might increase the likelihood of that happening. Adding in 15 to 30 minute buffer periods to rest before bedtime and trying natural sleep soothers like banana peel tea, DIY lavender linen spray, or even just wearing socks to bed can help us get on track, too.
Give the sleep cycles trick a try and see if you wake up feeling more refreshed tomorrow!