How Going To Bed At the Same Time Every Night Is More Important Than Getting 8 Hours of Sleep

We’ve all heard that 8 hours sleep a night is crucial to maintaining optimum health. Now it seems as though research shows that going to bed at the same time every night is more important than getting those 8 hours of sleep. In general, sleep schedules are important because our bodies work best when they’re able to anticipate what’s coming, rather than simply reacting to it. Our bodies anticipate the rest that’s happening at a certain time, so if that time is constantly changing, our brain becomes confused about when to sleep. Throughout the day, the body produces cortisol — which regulates stress — and serotonin — which controls mood. Cortisol levels peak at around 8 a.m., which wakes us up. Levels drop to their lowest at 3 a.m. the next day, before rising back to its peak 5 hours later. Ideally, this 8 a.m. peak will be triggered by exposure to sunlight, if not an alarm. When it does, the adrenal glands and brain will start pumping adrenaline. After noon, cortisol levels start their steady decline. Metabolism slows down, and tiredness sets in. Gradually, serotonin turns into melatonin, which induces sleepiness. If bedtime keeps changing, our bodies can’t properly regulate hormone production, which results in poor sleep, difficulty concentrating, lack of energy, and moodiness. Experts advise not to stress if you can’t fall asleep at your scheduled bedtime. However, if you do go to bed later one night, don’t take a long nap the next day to make up for it. That makes it even more difficult to fall asleep when bedtime rolls around. The Sleep Foundation recommends winding down at the same time every night and keeping the bedroom for sleep only — no reading or watching TV.