The Three Rs of High Quality Sleep: Regularity

The Three Rs of High Quality Sleep: Regularity

Over the next few days our articles will introduce you to the Three Rs, each of which are important considerations for improving your sleep. 

The Three Rs represent regularity, routine & relaxation. 

➡️ The first of the Three Rs is Regularity. 

Regular sleep and wake times are the key to healthy circadian rhythms.

When your circadian rhythm is more regular, you get better quality sleep.

That’s because when you begin to do the same things at the same time every day (in this case falling asleep and waking up), your body becomes accustomed to doing that thing better at that time the more regularly it occurs.

When it comes to getting good sleep, having a regular bedtime and wake up time is key.

When you don’t have a regular bedtime and wake time, this disrupts your entire circadian rhythm and causes the equivalent of long-haul flight jetlag throughout your body.

Whilst most of us aren’t travelling between time zones, many of us experience a self-imposed issue that has similar negative effects on our health every weekend – social jet lag! 

Let’s say that from Monday to Thursday you fall asleep by 10 PM and wake up at 6 AM.

But every Friday and Saturday you stay up later, you go to bed at 1 or 2 AM and you don’t wake up until 9 or 10 AM.

This means that you are creating a 3-4 hour gap between your brain and body’s rhythms every weekend – this is the equivalent of flying between time zones. 

You feel the negative effects of this on Sunday night and most especially Monday morning. This is because you have lost the regularity of your sleep schedule over the weekend and your circadian rhythm has to readjust meaning that your sleep quality suffers. 

During the working week it’s easier – we don’t have the same social obligations or exciting things that we want to do.

At the weekends it’s different – this means that you may need to consider changing how you schedule your weekend activities if you aren’t happy with your sleep quality. 

Friends and family may often prefer planning events for later in the evening or you might currently enjoy bingeing on a good Netflix series on Friday and Saturday nights, but what’s stopping you from amending these arrangements to start and end earlier?

By adjusting your weekend schedule and sticking to regular sleep and wake times across the entire week, your circadian rhythm functions better and your sleep quality improves.

… and let’s remember, it’s not just the quality of your sleep that improves when your circadian rhythm is functioning well. You will lose weight easier, have more energy and feel happier when you commit to the groundwork needed to align your rhythms. 

Physically planning your ideal sleep and wake schedule is an important step to getting good sleep. Whilst this might sound childish and simplistic at first, it is absolutely critical for your success! 

Here are some simple action steps to help define the schedule that will work best for you.

  1. Pick a bedtime and wake up time that allows you to get 7-9 hours of sleep. It can be useful to plan your time asleep in terms of sleep cycles; aiming for 5 cycles (7.5 hours) or 6 cycles (9 hours). 
  2. Consider that the more hours of sleep you get before midnight, the deeper and more restorative sleep you’ll receive.
  3. Aim to get to bed within 2-3 hours of sunset in the summer, and 4 hours in the winter.
  4. Be aware of the time that you are going to bed on the weekends, especially when you are more social – try to keep your sleep and wake time within 90 minutes of your normal weekday bedtime so that your rhythm isn’t disrupted. 

Remember, when your circadian rhythm functions better – it’s not just your sleep, but every system of your body that functions better! 

That’s all for today. Next up is the second of the Three Rs… Routine!

😴 💤 🌛

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