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Calculate Sleep to Know the Best Time to Go to Sleep

Sleep is, perhaps, the most underrated and unappreciated function of our bodies. Most people view sleep as a passive state – something that happens to us when we’re tired – but sleep is actually an active process that is vital to our health and wellbeing. Getting enough quality sleep is essential for our physical and mental health. It helps to repair and restore our bodies, gives us energy, and allows us to think clearly and make good decisions. Being able to calculate sleep patterns and track sleep stages is important for optimizing our sleep and ensuring that we are getting the most out of this crucial bodily function.

Understanding the Importance of Sleep

Despite being essential for optimal health, many people do not get enough sleep. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 3 adults don't get enough sleep and the National Sleep Foundation notes that 10% to 30% of adults struggle with chronic insomnia. This can have serious consequences – sleep deprivation has been linked to car accidents, laziness, bad life choices, and work mistakes. It can also lead to chronic health problems such as obesity, heart disease, and stroke. But what happens inside our brain and body when we don't get enough sleep?

When we fall asleep, we enter into a state of rest and recovery. Our brains are able to consolidate memories, repair damaged cells, and release hormones that help to regulate our mood and energy levels. When we don’t get enough sleep, our brains are unable to properly perform these functions. This can lead to daytime fatigue, irritability, and difficulty concentrating. sleep deprivation can also cause long-term problems such as depression, anxiety, and chronic stress.

How Much Sleep Do I Need?

Most adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night, but some people may require more or less depending on their age, activity level, and overall health. If you're wanting to calculate sleep requirements, using the table below will give you the average sleep need as recommended by the National Sleep Foundation.

  • Newborn 0–3 months old: 14–17 hours
  • Infant 4–11 months old: 12–15 hours
  • Toddler 1–2 years old: 11–14 hours
  • Preschool 3–5 years old: 10–13 hours
  • School-age 6–13 years old: 9–11 hours
  • Teens 14–17 years old: 8–10 hours
  • Adults: 7-9 hours

The Stages of Sleep

Contrary to popular belief, we don't simply go to sleep and stay asleep for the entire night. Our sleep is actually divided into two main types – REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and non-REM sleep – and each type is further divided into three stages.

Non-REM sleep consists of three stages: N1, N2, and N3. N1 is the lightest stage of sleep, where we may feel drowsy but can still be easily awoken. N2 is a deeper stage of sleep, and N3 is the deepest and most restorative stage of sleep. REM sleep is when we experience dreams and our brains are more active.

Most people cycle through all four stages of sleep several times throughout the night, with each cycle lasting about 90 minutes. Our sleep gets progressively deeper in each successive cycle, with more time spent in N3 and REM sleep as the night goes on. 5 to 6 full cycles are seen as optimal for a good night's rest.

Why is this important to know? Because if you're wanting to optimize your sleep, it's helpful to understand how sleep cycles work. Waking up in the middle of a deep sleep cycle can leave you feeling groggy and disoriented, so it's best to try and wake up at the end of a sleep cycle. Likewise, if you have trouble falling asleep, it may be helpful to know how to calculate sleep times so that you wake up at the beginning of a sleep cycle.

How to Calculate Your Sleep Cycle

There are a few different ways to calculate your sleep cycle, but the most accurate method is to use a sleep tracker. Sleep trackers monitor your sleep and provide you with detailed data about your sleep patterns. This information can be used to calculate your sleep cycles and optimize your sleep schedule.

If you don't have a sleep tracker, there are still some ways to calculate your sleep cycle. One method is to use a sleep calculator, which uses your bedtime and wake-up time to estimate your sleep cycle. This information can then be used to calculate an average sleep cycle but won’t necessarily give you the insights into the quality of sleep you're getting throughout the night as a sleep tracker would.

Research has shown that the best time to go to sleep is 10 pm. While this may differ from person to person, it is most beneficial to have a consistent bedtime so that your body starts to wind down at the same time each night. As the sun sets and the night approaches, you should attempt to eliminate all light exposure and start to wind down for sleep. This means no more screens (phones, laptops, TVs), no more work, and no more bright lights. If you can, try to spend some time in dim lighting or even darkness to help signal to your brain that it's time for sleep.

Once you've fallen asleep, achieving a REM cycle is crucial for feeling rested and rejuvenated in the morning. A full sleep cycle takes around 90 minutes, so if you go to bed at 10 pm, you should aim to wake up no later than 6:30 am in order to get the full benefits of REM sleep.

Supercharged Sleep Cycles with Circular

Circular's advanced sleep tracker capabilities allow you to not only calculate sleep cycles but also optimize them for maximum benefits. By tracking your sleep and providing detailed data about your sleep patterns, Circular gives you the insights you need to make small tweaks that can have a big impact on the quality of your sleep.

Circular measures your heart rate, breathing rate, Sp02, temperature, and movements throughout the night, and uses this data to calculate your sleep cycles. It also uses this data to provide you with a detailed sleep report that includes information like how long you slept, how many times you woke up, your sleep latency, and insight into how long you spend in each stage of the sleep cycle. Circular provides you with a sleep efficiency score related to your personal sleeping requirements and makes suggestions on how much sleep you need, when you need to sleep, and how to optimize your sleep for better quality rest so you can wake up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated every morning.

Amaury Kosman

CEO of Circular, Amaury is passionate about technology and improving human capabilities. He is an avid marathon runner who likes to optimize his training.

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