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If you struggle to sleep, should you go to bed earlier or get up later?

People know I am a CBTI trained sleep coach, and so in clinic one day I was asked a great sleep question !  A person struggling with sleep asked a question along the lines of: Is it better for me to go to bed early or to sleep late?

The answer is NEITHER!

BOTH are bad ideas, and one is a worse idea than the other and I’ll explain why.

When you wake up and start your day, you start accumulating ‘sleep drive’  A drive toward sleep. Some people attribute this to a buildup of adenosine which is only reduced in the brain by sleep but the research is still out on this.

If you get up late, or nap, you reduce your overall sleep drive buildup over the day. So do not get up late! Get up at the same time every day. ESPECIALLY if you struggle to get to sleep.

In terms of going to bed – only to go bed when you are sleepy.  You don’t sit down to a meal before you are hungry, and then wait until you are hungry to eat, right?  Why to to bed knowing you are going to toss and turn and wait for sleepyness to happen?

Doing that only sets you up for worsening insomnia. You associate your bed with anxiety and sleeplessness.

It’s MUCH better to wait until you are sleepy to go to bed.  You have more chance of sleep….which creates a positive association with bed/sleep….and you won’t have the tossing/turning/negative associations of going to bed before you are actually sleepy.

Bottom line: generally speaking, don’t go to bed before you are sleepy and don’t sleep in! Go to bed when you are ready to fall asleep and get up at the same time every day.

If you’d like to follow more of my work with sleep, check me out at Tracy The Sleep Coach



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