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How to Find Your Ideal Sleep Schedule

“You’ll feel better after a good night’s sleep.”

That’s what you tell a friend after a breakup. (Right after you say: “I never liked that loser anyway.”)

But it’s also true.

That’s because the restorative benefit of a good night’s sleep does indeed make you feel better. In fact, it helps you:

✅ Have more physical and mental energy for exercise and work

✅ More effectively manage your stress and emotions

(Just for starters.)

And in turn, each of those factors can contribute to better sleep.

So instead of a vicious cycle that makes life harder, adequate shuteye sparks a virtuous cycle that makes life better.

There’s a big problem, though.

Many folks struggle with sleep.

They say they’re always tired no matter what they do. Plus, they’ve tried everything—gravity blankets, sleep trackers, supplements—and nothing helps. (“NOTHING!”)

There’s no one single fix for all poor sleepers, but the place many people should start is with their sleep schedule.

While that might sound obvious, if you haven’t been very intentional about this, you could find it very helpful.

The first step:

Figure out how many hours of sleep you personally need. That’d generally be the amount that allows you to wake up without an alarm clock feeling well rested.

If you’re not sure about that amount, you could start with 7-8 hours.

Now count backward from the time you want to wake up. That’s your bedtime, and yes, it’s THAT simple (to calculate).

You’ll want to stick to this schedule as much as you can, including on the weekends.

That’s because after a good night’s sleep, most people need to be awake around 16 hours before they feel sleepy. So if you get up later than usual, you’re going to struggle to go to bed at your scheduled time.

(BTW, this advice comes directly from Dr. Jennifer Martin, President of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.)

Fair warning…

This may come with tradeoffs you don’t like—such as going to bed earlier and not sleeping in on your days off.

But it’s been known to work wonders for people.

Of course, if it’s a monumental change to what you’re currently doing, it may feel impossible to make it work.

So instead of going straight to “ideal,” start with doable.

Create a sleep schedule you think you can stick to 6 out of 7 nights a week, and put it to this test: On a scale of 0 (no way!) to 10 (so easy it’s laughable), rank your confidence you’ll follow through—and only proceed when you get to a 9 or 10.

Do that for at least two weeks, and if you have success, try to improve on it over time. And if you don’t, scale back and try again.

For additional tips to help get your sleep on track, check out this video panel of sleep experts (including me :)

Sweet dreams!

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If you, or someone you know, needs help with a sleep,nutrition, or fitness plan, please reach out. Either online or in the gym, I specialize in helping busy professionals over 40 get fit without burning out. My personal training studio services downtown Toronto and is just steps away from the UP Union to Pearson Express Station.

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