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How to hack sleeping patterns

The first step to getting good quality sleep every night is understanding your sleeping patterns. Understanding your unique sleeping pattern will give you the knowledge to know when to go to bed, when to get up, and even how long to power nap for. Every individual has a slightly different sleeping pattern, but there are a few general rules you can use to begin.

A sleep cycle will usually last between 90 and 110 minutes, depending on the individual. A sleep cycle will include REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which is a deep sleep, and where all of your dreaming will happen. It will also include non-REM sleep, where you will typically be more still, your heart rate and blood pressure will decrease, and you will be steadily falling into a deeper sleep.

It is recommended that you have four to five sleep cycles each night, equal to around six to nine hours of sleep. In order to determine your own sleeping patterns, you should try to get to bed at the same time each night. You may find it helpful to have a nighttime routine to ensure consistency each evening. Choose a weekend, or a day you don’t have be up early to ditch your alarm and wake up naturally. How many hours did you sleep? How do you feel? Take note of this, and experiment with slightly different bed times to gauge how you feel.

A ‘good sleep’ has been clinically categorised by the following criteria:

  • You fell asleep easily
  • You stayed asleep all night
  • You did not wake up too early
  • You woke up feeling rested.

You can use this checklist when determining how you feel when trying out different bed times and lengths of sleep. After a couple of days, or a week, you will be able to see a pattern forming. It is important to remember that you can have too much sleep, or oversleep, which can lead to drowsiness in the same way that sleeping too little can.

If you find it difficult to determine any regular sleep cycle, or have consistent trouble sleeping, speak to your doctor or pharmacist.

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