Ever wonder what is the best time to go to sleep? What’s best according to your body’s natural rhythms and according to science? I’m an integrative medicine physician assistant, and let’s dive into this topic together to get you sleeping like a baby in no time!
Although, honestly, I want you to sleep better than a baby. 🙂 As a mom of two littles, I don’t want you to wake up every 3 hours like a newborn or in the middle of the night with a bad dream about a dragon biting a princess (like my 4 year old).
In this post, we’ll answer that burning question of “What is the best time to go to sleep?”
In this series of 5 Days To A Better Night’s Sleep, we’ll look at 5 ways that you can sleep better, longer, and wake up more refreshed naturally.
You can try each one individually or combine them all to create an absolutely amazing night’s sleep.
Over the next 5 days, we’ll cover:
- What Is the Best Time to Go to Sleep? (you’re right here!)
- The 5 Easy, Healthy Things that You NEED to Start Doing Just Before Bed
- The Best Thing to Do During the Day to Sleep Better at Night
- My Favorite Supplement to Help You Sleep (and two ways to take it to help your sleep needs)
- The Best Mineral for Amazing Sleep
Wanna know what other things you can do throughout the day to improve your health in easy and natural ways? Check out these 5 things that you can do every day (I do!) to feel awesome:
Circadian Rhythms For Sleep
Simply put, a circadian rhythm is your body’s natural daily rhythms of sleepiness and wakefulness. It’s often called your sleep/wake cycle.
It’s controlled by the hypothalamus (in the brain) and different hormones in the body, and it’s responsible for how you feel sleepy at a similar time every day.
Working with your natural circadian rhythms helps you to fall asleep faster and more easily.
Your circadian rhythms are controlled by your HPA axis, or hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis, which controls lots of things, including metabolism, energy levels, and stress response.
According to medical studies, in healthy individuals, cortisol (a main stress hormone) reaches its lowest level at midnight. This plays a role in restful, restorative sleep.
Cortisol gradually increases after midnight and peaks at 8:30-9 am. Then, it should gradually decrease throughout the day.
Abnormal HPA Axis and Messed Up Sleep/Wake Patterns
HPA axis dysregulation (also called Adrenal Fatigue, the commonly used but not really accurate term) is on the rise today.
When this happens, daily cortisol patterns get messed up.
Instead of a nice, normal gradual decline throughout the day, many people have weird cortisol dips in the afternoon (making you feel like you have an afternoon slump) or random peaks at night (the dreaded second wind, see below).
These can make it harder to have good energy levels throughout the day or to fall asleep at night.
If you’ve been through recent illnesses or are in a very stressful season of life, you may have Adrenal Fatigue, which makes it really hard to sleep well.
If that’s you, check out these two things on Adrenal Fatigue to start feeling better FAST:
- The Ultimate Guide To Adrenal Fatigue– And How To Stop Feeling SO Tired All The Time
- 5 Fast Fixes For Adrenal Fatigue (for those days when you Just. Can’t. Even.)
Even if you suspect that you have Adrenal Fatigue (and you can know for sure by doing the this easy at home test kit called the Sleep and Stress Panel), you can STILL go to bed at the right time.
Your HPA axis is ah-mazing, and most people don’t need medications or even crazy expensive supplements to heal it up.
You can start by knowing what is the best time to go to sleep and creating a better night’s sleep with these tips.
Your “Second Wind”- The Late Night Cortisol Spike
Have you ever noticed how you seem to get a second wind if you stay up late in the evening?
It’s 9-10pm, and you notice that you start yawning a bit while you’re watching Netflix. You’re in the middle of a season, and you really want to know what’s coming next in your current favorite show.
So you stay up a little bit longer, maybe grab a snack, and keep watching.
If that snack was something with sugar or white flour, you’ll especially notice a boost in energy. That’s the feeling of a “sugar rush,” as glucose gets dumped into your blood stream quickly.
Then– BOOM!– 11 o’clock rolls around and your second wind hits. You’re totally ready to watch the last 2 episodes.
That, my friend, was your late evening spike of cortisol.
This second wind spike of cortisol can make it difficult for you to settle down to go to sleep, and you could be missing out on your best sleep.
Do the Best You Can
Some seasons of life make it hard to do this. When you have sick kids, a new baby, work different hours, these can make it tricky to get to bed before your second wind.
For those of you who work late, work swing shifts, or have an unpredictable schedule, simply do the best that you can.
Worrying and stressing over this can lead to further increases in cortisol levels.
So, take some deep breaths, file this information away under “useful info” or “stuff I’ll do when life changes a bit,” and do the best that you can with what you have. 🙂
We’re talking about what’s the best time to go to sleep, when you have a say over what time you can go to bed.
Bottom Line- What Is the Best Time To Go To Sleep?
Yup, I said it!
For most of my patients, they’re experienced improved health and wellness when they make getting to bed before 10-11pm as part of their health and wellness plan.
Whether or not you have adrenal fatigue (and most people have some degree of it), going to bed before that potential evening cortisol spike is super helpful.
And keeping your cortisol levels in a better rhythm means that it’s easier to get up in the morning, starting your day off more peacefully.
Lower cortisol levels can lead to lower levels of inflammation, perceived stress, and even weight loss (high cortisol levels are correlated with abdominal weight gain, or belly fat).
So, you can do it, friend! Go to bed before 11pm. 🙂
References for What Is the Best Time To Go To Sleep:
- Replication of cortisol circadian rhythm: new advances in hydrocortisone replacement therapy
- Interactions between sleep, stress, and metabolism: From physiological to pathological conditions
Healthy Living Resources…
that make it easy to make the healthy choice
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