A healthy adult needs about 7-9 hours of sleep a night to be at their best. Some need more, others less, but generally this is what’s considered healthy. Teenagers and kids need even more, and surprisingly even when you’re reaching old age you still need 7-9 hours of sleep a night.
However, what about those times when you’ve had 7-9 hours of sleep and you still wake up feeling tired? It all comes down to sleep cycles.
Sleep cycles are the key to waking up refreshed
You’ve probably read or heard all about sleep cycles and a REM state and a NREM state. Those being the states where your eyes are either still or moving, and you’re either dreaming or not dreaming.
REM sleep happens at the end of a cycle and it’s the time when you dream. This is why you sometimes wake up feeling like you’ve just come straight out of a dream, particularly if it’s a nightmare.
A sleep cycle lasts about 90 minutes, and we need between 4-5 sleep cycles per night. You might not know but you actually “wake up” quite a few times each night at the end of each cycle, but you just don’t remember it.
Sleep cycles are vital when it comes to waking up feeling fresh and not like you’re a zombie that needs another two hours to ‘wake up properly’.
Sleep to the cycles!
Back when I was at university I’d usually need to get to an early lecture, and by early I mean by 10am. I’d think to myself “OK, I need to be there by 10, so I need to leave by 9.15, so I need to get up at 8.30”.
Regardless of the current time I’d set my alarm for 8.30am and get up and go. Sometimes I’d feel fine, other times I’d feel stupidly tired, and it didn’t seem to matter how much sleep I’d had. I did this for years and years until I discovered a life changing thing:
if you wake at the end of a sleep cycle, you’re never drowsy, sluggish or ZOMBIFIED
It really is that simple
It wasn’t meditation or exercise or “getting an early night” that was they key (although they certainly do help). It was simply following my sleep cycles and making sure I woke up at the end of one. Now I always, well, 99% of the time wake up feeling fine. This is because before I go to bed I check when my sleep cycles are ending so I know when to get up.
There are hundreds of apps and websites that calculate your sleep cycles for you. You can either tell it when you’re going to bed, and it’ll tell you what times you should get up. Or you can tell it when you want to get up, and it’ll suggest times to go to bed.
As soon as I did this I very rarely woke up feeling groggy or lethargic again. In fact I found I could function well off 7.5 hours of sleep, rather than “9 hours and a broken cycle”.
It might be better to wake up earlier
As crazy as it sounds, if you have to be somewhere by 10am, instead of just saying to yourself “ok I need to get up at 8.30am”, you could see how many cycles of sleep it is to get close to that time.
Depending on when you go to bed, it might be better to wake up at 8.05am, as that’s the end of a cycle. If you keep sleeping until 8.30am you would’ve started another cycle, then broken it when your alarm drags you back to consciousness, and you’ll feel sluggish.
You’ll wake up feeling worse then if you’d gotten up a bit earlier!
What app do I use for sleeping?
I don’t use an app, I use a website called sleepcalculator.com, although there is an app for it. It’s very easy to use, you either click on the “when should I go to bed?” button, or the “when should I get up?” button.
I click the “when should I go to bed?” button, and it tells me when to set my alarm so I can have five interrupted sleep cycles.
I’m lucky in that I only work in the evenings, so there’s no particular time I need to get up in the morning. However if there is a certain time the website will tell me when to go to bed. It only takes a few nights to adjust your body clock.
Always wake up at the end of a sleep cycle, and never feel like a zombie in the morning again!
It honestly changed my life, and for years I’ve been using this method. Ask anyone who knows me and they’d tell you I used to easily sleep until midday or 1pm in the afternoon.
Now that I’ve been sleeping the same amount every night I regularly wake up after five sleep cycles, even if I don’t set my alarm.
Try it tonight and see how you feel
I bet you a Pina Colada at the finest bar you can think of that there won’t be a hint of zombie or slug anywhere near you when you wake up! And as you’re taking a journey of self-development, take a look at my self-development page for a crap ton of other posts that will turn you into a superman or woman.