“Go to bed early!”
There, I said it. It will make you more productive, you will feel better, and it will decrease your stress.
But before you think this is the same old anti-night owl propaganda you’ve heard way too many times, let me tell you: it isn’t!
This isn't an article full of “productivity porn,” advising people to
“get up at 5 a.m., take a cold shower, followed by a focused waterboarding session with your friendly CIA-certified productivity coach because life is utterly meaningless.”
Life isn’t meaningless, I'm grateful to not be living in the Middle Ages, and my ancestors didn’t toil so hard only for me to forego warm water in the 21st century.
Neither am I telling you to go to bed at 9 p.m., as if that advice would work for everyone.
Telling everyone they should go to bed at that hour can only come from a monoculturally raised American who has never lived in Spain. And, well, I have lived in Spain (also, I’m not American, but that’s another story).
All I am telling you is to go to bed early (as defined by your own standards). Because we are tying “early” to your natural rhythm, it means that this advice can work for you, whether you are a night owl or a morning bird.
Do you see how great that is? By going to bed early, you might actually get a full night of sleep! Just imagine how good you will feel tomorrow, when you're not sleep-deprived!
Oh, and did I mention the best part? I am not telling you to go to bed early so you can get up at the crack of dawn for the aforementioned cold shower/waterboarding session.
How would that motivate anyone to change their sleeping schedule? That is like encouraging people to eat healthier so they have the energy to self-flagellate for an extra 2 hours each day. Who would be motivated by that? (Well, other than some saints...).
Just go to bed earlier. Whether or not you want to get up earlier is up to you.
With that said, let's look at some questions you might have about this:
1. Is it good to go to bed early?
When you go to bed early (by your own standards, not someone else’s), you can expect the following benefits:
- depending on how you use the extra time in bed, you either get up earlier or you get more sleep, and
- your next day will be less stressful as you are more rested and/or don’t feel like you’re running behind because you got up late.
As such, going to bed earlier (by your own standards) is perhaps one of the best productivity hacks. This is especially true for night owls who tend to stay up late. Even going to bed just 30 minutes earlier can already make a huge difference.
2. How early is too early for bedtime?
While there are many advantages to going to bed early, here’s one caveat that mostly applies to morning people: depending on how early you go to bed, your bedtime can cut into your social life, hobbies, and other enjoyable activities.
For instance, I know a young Millennial who goes to bed around 9 p.m. Naturally, such an early bedtime can make it difficult to do something in the evening with other people.As with everything, life is a balancing act and you need to make sure that the drawbacks are worth the advantages
3. When is the best time to go to sleep at night?
According to Dr. Matt Walker, head of the Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab at the University of California, Berkeley, going to bed late could lead to not getting enough deep, non-REM sleep (because the ratio of REM to non-REM sleep changes through the night).
Both Dr. Walker and the National Sleep Foundation recommend going to bed between 8 p.m. and midnight.
When deciding on the ideal time to go to sleep, you should also consider your natural rhythm.
For instance, clinical sleep research Rafael Pelayo called going to bed too early a “mistake”: "Trying to go to sleep when your body wants to be awake is like swimming upstream."
Given all this, experts say that you should go to bed when you are at your sleepiest.
How to get to bed earlier
ADvice for getting to Bed earlier:
Going to bed earlier might be the most under-utilized productivity advice in the world.
At the risk of sounding like your parents:
"Go to bed (early)!"
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