Rise and Shine | What Is the Best Time to Wake Up?

Published on: 09/10/2020

Whether you are an early bird or a night owl by choice, or whether your work requires you to maintain a specific schedule, it is worthwhile to know how you can get the most out of your nightly downtime.

We have been told that as adults, we need about seven to nine hours of sleep each night. This requirement may still vary from person to person and that we should consider how we feel when we wake up. When we have enough sleep, we should feel rested and refreshed in the morning, with little to no drowsiness during the day.  

But does our sleeping and waking up schedule factor in with how we feel during the daytime? Granted that with our different lifestyles, professions, and preferences, there may not be one timetable that fits all. 

What Time Should Bedtime Be?

According to the National Sleep Foundation, it is ideal to fall asleep between 8 p.m. and midnight. By sleeping during these hours, we will be able to wake up in the early morning hours. Doing so will enable us to match our biological tendencies with the rising and setting of the sun. This should allow for a natural sleep cycle once we find ourselves sleepier after sundown. 

Also called our circadian rhythm, this is our brain’s natural sleep-wake schedule. Running 24 hours each day, our body’s internal clock is responsible for our alertness and sleepiness. Once you have established your schedule, your brain learns to adapt to these hours. 

This is the reason why some people can wake up even without an alarm clock. So if your sleeping time tends to vary because of irregular work hours or other reasons, your circadian rhythm becomes off-balance. You might experience increased sleepiness and less energy during the day.

What Is the Best Time to Wake Up?

With your bedtime weighing in heavily on the optimal time for you to wake up, most experts simply suggest rising with the sun. 

Counting the appropriate hours from the time you slept, the best waking up time varies for everyone. You should also consider the quality of sleep you were able to get from the previous night. As a rule, good quality sleep is characterized by continuous slumber, waking up not more than once each night.

So whether your sleep cycle is in sync with the sun or not, make sure you factor in the quantity and quality of the hours you have slept. 

Once you have determined your optimal schedule, keep them consistent, even during the weekend or your days off if possible. This approach was shown in a 2017 study of 61 undergraduate students, where researchers found out how irregular sleep and wake patterns are associated with poorer performance in academics.   

With consistency being the key, learn to observe how you feel when you sleep and wake up at different times so you can uphold the schedule that is best for you. 

Your Wake Up Routine Matters

No matter what time you personally decide to wake up, your first activity can set the tone for your day. Like in your sleeping cycle, a fixed routine is also beneficial: exercise, shower, and a healthy breakfast are just a few good ways to start your next 24 hours.

1. Phillips, A.J.K., Clerx, W.M., O’Brien, C.S. et al. Irregular sleep/wake patterns are associated with poorer academic performance and delayed circadian and sleep/wake timing. Sci Rep 7, 3216 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-03171-4