What Time Should I Go To Bed? Ask Our Sleep Calculator
You should go to bed at a time that allows you to get a full 7-9 hours of sleep, and if possible, set your bed time a little more than 7.5 or 9 hours before your planned wakeup time. This timing can help you avoid waking in the middle of a sleep cycle which lasts 90-110 minutes on average.
Sleep cycles usually take 90-110 minutes, and waking in the middle of one can cause grogginess.
As we age, we crave different amounts of sleep and we want to go to bed earlier or later.
Adjusting your bedtime for your individual needs can lead to more restorative sleep.
Did you know?
Sleep cycles change throughout each night. At the start, each 90-110 minute cycle favors deeper stages of sleep, while REM makes up more of each cycle closer to morning.
Looking to nail down the perfect amount of snooze each night? Wondering “What time should I go to bed” to get there?
While there are many individual factors that go into figuring out what a perfect night of sleep looks like, there are a few basics that can give you a very good idea. Deciding on a wake-up time is the first step. After that, our sleep calculator can lay out your options.
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Bedtime and Sleep Cycles
If you want to optimize your sleep schedule, it’s important to know about sleep cycles. “What’s a sleep cycle?” You ask?
A sleep cycle is a roughly 90-110 minute snooze session, broken up into four unique stages:
- Non-REM stage 1 (very light sleep) – 5%
- Non-REM stage 2 (deep sleep starts to occur) – 45%
- Non-REM stage 3 (deep sleep) – 25%
- REM sleep – 25%
Keep in mind that the number of minutes listed are averages. The first sleep cycles of the night actually have less REM sleep and more deep sleep. As the night goes on, this ratio starts to flip so that REM takes up larger portions.
Why Plan Your Sleep Around Cycles?
What this means is that the earliest part of a night of sleep is better for restoring the body through deep sleep. The reason why it is bad to sleep after 11 PM, for example, is that you could be missing out on bigger chunks of REM which is good for things like memory and emotional processing. That’s only if you’re waking up too early, though.
Waking up in the middle of a sleep cycle can also lead to morning fatigue, another reason to try to stick to a solid bed and wake up time.
Average Sleep Needs
Aside from sleep stage needs, humans also have baselines for how much they need to doze overall each night. Don’t let your friend who says they only need three hours fool you.
Here are the CDC’s recommended ranges for typical humans at different ages:
- 9-12 hours for kids (6-12 years old)
- 8-12 hours for adolescents (13-18 years old)
- 7+ hours for adults (18-60 years old)
- 7-9 hours for those over 60
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Bedtimes by Age
There are also preferences for morning and night to consider, which also change the older you get. Here’s a rough guide for what time you should sleep by age:
- Kids and infants (6-12): Early hours like 8-9 PM
- Adolescents and young adults (13-19): Late hours like 11 or 12 PM
- Adults (20-60): starts to get earlier to times like 10, 11, and even 9 PM
- Over 60: Back to early hours like 9 PM
Keep in mind that each individual is very different, and you may not slot in perfectly to these categories. If you’re looking for a good idea of what time you should go to bed that matches your schedule, you may want to try our sleep calculator.
Here are some of the common questions around the best time to go to sleep.
1. What Time Should I Wake Up and Go To Bed?
You should wake up and go to bed at times that allow you to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night. The wakeup time should also hopefully come after a full sleep cycle, rather than interrupting one.
Since the average sleep cycle is about 90 minutes, you can set your alarm for about 7.5 hours after the start of sleep. For example, if you wanted to wake up at 7 AM, you would go to bed a little before 11:30 PM the night before. 11:15 would be a good time to set as bedtime because it takes some time to fall asleep.
Another factor to consider is age. Optimal bed and wakeup times change as we get older, with adolescents craving later bedtimes and people over 60 wanting to sleep earlier.
2. Why Am I Still Tired After Sleeping for 8 Hours?
There are many possible reasons for why you’re still tired after sleeping for 8 hours, the most obvious one being that 8 hours isn't enough sleep for you. This could be because your genes are hard-wired to require 9 or more hours of sleep each night, as is the case for some adults.
It’s also possible that a sleep disorder is interrupting your snooze. Sleep apnea is a common one that can lead to poor-quality sleep, leaving you tired in the morning. Other possibilities include disorders like insomnia, restless leg syndrome, or even depression that leaves you drained in the morning.
Morning fatigue can also be a sign that you’re not timing your sleep properly and are waking in the middle of a sleep cycle. This can lead to sleep inertia, a phenomenon often experienced when coming out of a nap that was a little too long.
3. Is It Healthy to Sleep in the Morning?
It’s healthy to sleep in the morning if that’s what your body is asking for and there are no other distressing signs such as sleep or mental disorders. Some people have a preference for staying up late and waking up early, so if that’s what works for you and it doesn’t conflict with your schedule, it shouldn’t hurt to keep doing it.
Genetic testing can even tell you whether you naturally have a preference for staying up late or going to bed early. You can also take a subjective survey that will give you less accurate results.
Age is another factor in bed times, with adolescents often preferring to sleep in later than those in their late 20s and older
4. How Do I Stop Waking up Tired?
If you want to stop waking up tired, using a sleep calculator to find out the ideal bed and wake up times can be the first step. Try timing your sleep to avoid sleep inertia and get a full night's rest within the average 7-9 hours each night
If you continue to wake up tired after consistently getting the appropriate amount of sleep at the right times, visiting a sleep clinic may be a good idea. Sometimes fatigue in the morning can be a sign of sleep disorders breaking up sleep, whether you remember waking up or not.
However, for many people, a sleep schedule fix can be just what the doctor ordered.
What time you should go to bed depends on factors like age and how many sleep cycles you want to get through. Using our sleep calculator may help you find the perfect schedule to suit your needs.
Stick to that schedule, and you could be well on your way to more energy and brighter moods.