Calculate your perfect bedtime

Understanding your sleep cycles may help you go to sleep at the right time for your lifestyle, so you wake up more refreshed.

Unfortunately, most of us don’t have the luxury of waking when it suits us. We have to wake at a certain time because we must go to work, get the kids out of bed, walk the dog or go to the gym, for example. This usually requires an alarm of some sort to wake us each morning.

So while the time you wake up is generally out of your control, in that other elements determine when you wake, the time you go to bed is in your control. Humans have sleep cycles. These are 90 minutes long, which means the average person will have five sleep cycles or 7.5 hours sleep per night.

You can determine the right time to go to bed based on the available sleep cycles before you have to awaken. This will increase your chance of getting the quantity of sleep you need and the quality of sleep as well.

Your goal is to wake up naturally just before your alarm is set to wake you. As you already know what time you need to wake up, you calculate the time to go to bed using this simple formula:

  1. The average sleep cycle is approximately 90 minutes long.
  2. The average person has five sleep cycles per night if they’re not burning the midnight oil.
  3. Multiply 90 minutes by five sleep cycles per night for 450 minutes or 7.5 hours of sleep.
  4. Then count backwards 7.5 hours from your wake-up time and you have a starting point for your bedtime.

Here’s an example: you need to wake up to get ready for work at 6.30am. Counting backwards 7.5 hours, your lights-out time is 10.45pm if you allow 15 minutes to get to sleep.