There’s a lot of conflicting advice about the best time to go to bed. Some people swear by a 9pm bedtime while others can’t sleep before midnight.
But, according to some experts, the concept of an “ideal” bedtime is actually a myth.
“It’s a vague science to prescribe a bedtime for people,” Moira Junge, a health psychologist with the Sleep Health Foundation, told ABC Life. “If you think about the eight hours, 10pm to 6am springs to mind, but that’s really just working in with conventional work hours.”
According to Dr Junge, we actually alter the natural preferences that are inbuilt within us for when we go to bed in order to work around the commitments we have the next day and whether it’s “socially acceptable to go to bed at that time.”
But, if you were to take away all of these commitments and distractions and actually go to bed when you felt naturally tired, bedtime would differ greatly for each person due to these inbuilt preferences.
This is why many people can be divided into the categories of a morning person or night owl as there is something programmed within you that leans towards one or the other. In saying that, there are also people who fall in between these definitions.
“Most of us are sort of in between…” Gorica Micic, from the Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health at Flinders University, told ABC Life. “We can generally fall asleep between 9pm and midnight and wake up between 6-7am, so the ideal time is different for everybody.”
Both Dr Micic and Dr Junge recommend hitting the hay when you start to feel sleepy, rather than forcing yourself into bed as this often leads to frustration when you can’t fall asleep.
Ditching technology at night will also help you recognise when you’re feeling sleepy, as how many times have you fought sleep to keep scrolling on Instagram? We rest our case.