Why eight hours isn’t eight hours – if you hit the hay late

Ever notice how getting to bed before ten (versus midnight plus) doesn’t cut the gusto mustard?

(“So glad I set an extra fifteen minute snoozer to sit here and try to remember how to life.”)

Like, even if you get eight hours in, the latter lay down time leaves you with significantly less zest?

Me too. So, I did a bit of research into this. And what it all boils down to is our circadian rhythm and melatonin levels. Most of us are aware by this point of the effect that late night blue light exposure has on us. We stay up late – and what do we do? We watch T.V., we mess with our iphones, and we turn on the light in the loo. Because most indoor and electronic lighting is blue (the kind our bodies are acclimated to experiencing during waking hours), the exposure trolls our brains into believing we’re far from ready for bedtime. Blue light suppresses the melatonin production we need to nap, making amber light the only kind we should be around at nighttime.

(Stock image of a man committing sleep-icide in his own bed – the ultimate F.U. to the Sandman.)

However, this is only half the problem behind a tardy bedtime. The other issue’s what similarly happens – except at the other end – when the sun comes up. Short of having a blackout style room fit for the likes of Christian Grey and his torture chamber, it’s tough to snuff out sunlight come morning. (Especially with my cruddy Venetian blinds.) All those disgustingly gleeful photons come raining on in through the windows once we’re finally out. And, yet again, serene slumber’s under attack. Typically what’ll happen is that we’ll do these quasi wakeups, try to go back to sleep, wake again, rinse, repeat… And what’s the end product? That we’re not actually even getting in a legit seven or eight hours. We’re getting in maybe four or five – punctuated with interrupted sleep cycles. That’s super bad news because starting a new sleep cycle and ending it prior to completion leaves you groggy. There’s no bookmark to go back to when you wake up, hit the alarm, and roll back over. You end up waking up about fifteen minutes – or even an hour later – feeling crappy and a half – because your body thinks it was robbed of a full rest.

The fix?

As you may’ve guessed… it simply lies in lying down earlier. Say, before ten-ish.

Sound tough?

Trust me, I’m totally with you. In fact, I’ve recently gotten hooked (pardon the pun) on this drama about boxing (anyone else here seen “Kingdom”?). And, though night after night, I tell myself I’ll hit the hay by ten, I never do. I end up rolling into bed by 11:30 at the earliest, with cliffhangers on the brain. And, morning after morning, I wake up looking like my new favorite show’s alcoholic protagonist (and feeling a bit like it, too). Now that I’ve watched the last episode of the season, I’m finally going to try and break my bad habit (emphasis on the “try”). I’m willing to give it a go because I looked (and felt) far, far better several months ago when I was sacking out nearer to sunset o’ clock. Naturally, I invite you lovely perusers of my page to try it as well. But not without a plan of attack. And that’s as follows: See, seeing as I’m still addicted to an evening routine of mindless entertainment, my plan’s to cook up a P.M. itinerary that compromises with my downtime needs by comprising exactly a half an hour long decompression session, a sprinkling of fifteen minutes to walk the dog, and another cup o’ quarter-of-an-hour for my nightly ablutions and dish washing duties. Boom. A dish of in-bed-by-ten delicousness. So, let’s try this, you and I: we’ll give this new, crazy practice a go for, say, a week.

And if – after that – our mutual, newly concocted, nocturnal repertoire souffle leaves a bad taste in your mouth?

If you don’t love waking refreshed and looking schmexier?

Well… more for me.

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