You Need a Bedtime: Here are 5 Reasons Why
Clinical Herbalist Reviewed on February 21, 2019 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Sleep Support
When we were little, our parents made us adhere to a strict bedtime to ensure we got enough sleep each night. But as we grew older, most of us reveled in our new-found adult freedoms and ditched the bedtime, opting to head to bed whenever we wanted.
However, studies are showing that bedtimes aren’t just important for little kids—they’re also really important for adults, too. Setting a daily bedtime and following a regular sleep routine can provide numerous benefits, including getting enough rest to think properly the next day, de-stressing and minimizing your risk of health problems.
Here are five major reasons you should be adhering to a bedtime every night.
Ensure you get enough sleep
Parents know that their kids can get cranky if they don’t get their requisite 8-10 hours of sleep a night, but they often forget that sleep deprivation affects their moods, too. Adults should be getting at least 7 hours of sleep each night, but the optimal amount is between 8-9 hours.
While you might be able to push through a day or two without enough sleep, over time, sleep deprivation can take a major toll on your stress levels, concentration, happiness, mental health and physical condition. Sleep is when your body heals inside and out, and if you’re not maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, you might not be in as good of health as you think.
Following a nightly bedtime will make sure that you’re going to bed at a reasonable hour that allows for the proper number of sleeping hours every night.
Maintains circadian rhythms
Everyone has a circadian rhythm—an internal body clock that regulates many aspects of your body, including sleep and wakefulness, metabolism, hunger and more. This rhythm is a little different for everyone and can change over time. However, you want to try to follow it as much as possible in order to feel the best throughout the day and sleep well at night.
Your circadian rhythm will give your body natural cues as to when you should sleep and wake each day. If you follow those cues regularly, your rhythms will stay consistent. But, if you work against them, your schedule can disrupt them and cause numerous problems including weight gain and difficulty sleeping.
Fall asleep faster
If you’re constantly changing the times at which you go to sleep and wake up, you might begin to develop insomnia or have a hard time falling asleep at night. This also might happen if you’re taking naps during the day. The inability to fall asleep can be frustrating and is largely caused by a disruption of your circadian rhythms.
By following a regular bedtime, your body will know when it’s time to go to bed and wake up, and you’ll be tired enough to fall fast asleep right away when your bedtime rolls around.
Minimize risk of chronic health problems
Studies show that people who don’t sleep enough or don’t sleep well at night may be at a higher risk for chronic health problems including obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. On the other hand, people who practice sleep regularity may experience health benefits, both physical and mental.
Look forward to bedtime
Going to bed shouldn’t be a stressful experience. If you follow a regular bedtime, you can develop a great bedtime routine that incorporates methods of stress relief, relaxation, introspection and enjoyment. When this becomes a habit, you may start to feel less stressed and much happier.
One hour before your bedtime, start to unwind by brewing a cup of non-caffeinated tea, taking a relaxing bath or practicing a short yoga session. Spend some time journaling, reading a book or making a to-do list for the next day. By unplugging, thinking about your day and slowing down, you’ll create a nightly ritual that gives you time for yourself and leaves you prepped and refreshed in the morning.
Deviating from a sleep schedule is okay occasionally
A lot of people attempt to stick to an extremely strict bedtime and thus deprive themselves of the occasional late-night celebration or other fun activities. However, it’s important to remember that minor deviations from the schedule won’t suddenly put you at severe risk for health issues.
For the most part, you will be just fine to stay up late once in a while and adjust your sleep schedule back and forth to accommodate this. What you really want to watch out for is chronic sleep disruption in which you go to bed at drastically different times every night. Long-term sleep disruptions like this are what can affect your memory, mood and cognitive function and put you at risk for chronic health problems.
For the best night’s sleep every night, set a bedtime that works for your schedule and stick to it. In as little as a week, you’ll probably start to notice a difference in your mood, health and concentration.
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Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan