May 12, 2019 at 04:00AM by CWC
Have you ever been awake, late at night (or even into the wee morning hours), hopelessly wondering, “What time should I go to bed?” Probably, since sleep and feeling sleepy is a pretty constant topic of conversation, and (spoiler alert!) most of us aren’t getting enough. In fact, a survey of nearly 1,500 Well+Good readers revealed that people spend an average of six sleepless hours in bed a week, and 92 percent report feeling fatigued more than once a week, which is, you know, not ideal. So is your bedtime part of the problem, or is it just a matter of preference?
According to one pro, there’s no right bedtime. “Honestly, I don’t really ever prescribe an ideal bedtime because there’s natural variations from one person to another,” says licensed psychologist and sleep-health expert Shelby Harris, PsyD. “Some people are early birds, myself included—I’d LOVE to be asleep by 9:30 p.m. every night. And others are night owls—my husband, for instance, likes to stay up until 1 a.m. sometimes.”
Rather, the main issue at play here is making sure you get the right quality of sleep, and that your sleep duration makes sense with your bedtime of choice. But if you’re still curious about what your bedtime might actually signify about you and your sleeping habits, scroll down for Dr. Mary Grace’s* expert observations.
Hour by hour, here’s what your bedtime says about you.
8 p.m.: You are either a farmer or a journalist with an unfortunate 4 a.m.-to-noon shift. And you thought working remotely would be a breeze—LOL.
9 p.m.: You’re that early bird who catches the worm. You meal prep on Sunday nights, but you still budget time to make an acai bowl in your Vitamix before your 7 a.m. yoga class. You embody the healthy ideal that we all (as you will see) strive for, because you, my leggings-clad unicorn, actually clock your desired eight hours of sleep. That being said, you simply can’t hang. You’ve sleep-trained yourself to precision, which also means staying out past 10 on a weeknight gets you super grumpy and makes you lose that Lisa Frank glow.
10 p.m.: If you’re going to bed at 10 with no particular fitness plan in mind, then you probably live for the JOMO life and by the hygge life. Happiness is a warm blanket…and canceling dinner and drinks plans because you’re “so swamped right now.”
11 p.m.: This feels like the most sensible time to go to bed, even though people who go to bed at 11 don’t actually go to sleep at 11. If you’re going to bed at 11 p.m., you’re actually turning in at 11:12, 11:34, 11:46. You aspire to be an early bird and really want to take baby steps to improve your lifestyle habits. And you know what? You’re doing amazing, sweetie—and it’s okay if you finish that episode of whatever on Netflix before closing the laptop.
12 a.m.: You’re probably a realist. After a long work day, you actually want to fit in some me-time. If you’re a little bad and stay up that little bit later, you actually have the time to write in your journal, read a few chapters of your book, and finally drift to sleep in a way that feels natural and leisurely. You might be a little drowsy the next morning, but that’s what coffee is for.
1 a.m.: You may have an appsturbation problem. You spend your late nights cycling through apps on your phone, scrolling through social media, and playing your most addictive Candy Crush rip-off game for longer than you care to admit.
2 a.m.: This is a safe space, so feel free to be honest. Do you have a binge-watching problem? Because I bet you actually intend to close your eyes at midnight but then fall victim to the refrain of “one more episode.” It doesn’t even have to be a catnip-y, of-the-moment series that you’re trying to keep up with! It could be the same Simpsons episodes that you’ve been watching for 28 years. It’s okay—the first step is admitting.
3 a.m.: If you don’t deal with actual struggles related to sleep and sleep health, then you have a lot of restless energy. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though. You’re likely highly creative, and your best ideas happen to come to you in the middle of the night. And though you definitely need to be pried from bed on weekdays, your vivacious, eccentric personality really does shine through in those waking hours.
12 p.m.: You are a bartender or a musician, or my friend Tarra, who is incidentally both.
*I am not actually a doctor. Like not even a little bit.