Consistency | Sleep Science

Kristen Rainey

April 11, 2023

Do you go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time every day?

People often ask me what’s the most important thing they should be doing to improve their sleep. While it’s true there isn’t one silver bullet, one of the most impactful things to do is establishing a routine of going to bed at the same time and getting up at the same time, seven days a week, which helps lock in your body’s internal clock, or circadian rhythm, which can lead to more sleep and higher quality sleep.

This is hard for most of us. It’s common to have a weekday schedule of going to bed at a certain time on a work night / school night, and then staying up later and sleeping in on the weekend.

Why is that a problem?

When we stay up later and sleep in later on the weekends, our bodies experience the equivalent of travelling across time zones. When Sunday night rolls around, we’re not tired when it’s time to go to bed because we’ve been staying up later the prior two nights.  When our alarm goes off at its regular, weekday time on Monday morning, we feel like we’ve been run over by a truck. This is known as social jet lag.

So what’s the solution? …

Ideally, find a time that works for bedtime and wake up, seven days a week. If you do end up staying up a bit later on a weekend night, I’d suggest still getting up at your regular time, and then taking an under 90 minute midday nap before resuming your normal bedtime the following night. The more you can stick with your regular bedtime and wake time, the easier it will be to fall asleep at night and wake up the following morning. You might even find yourself waking up without an alarm. Give it a try for seven days and let me know how it goes.