How having a consistent wake time can help you to sleep better

And what can you do to achieve that?

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Nick Littlehales has written a small book called ‘Sleep’ and it’s fantastic! Along with Professor Matthew Walker’s book, ‘Why We Sleep’ have really helped to shape our ideas and inform a lot of what we guide you on. One of Nick Littlehales’ idea is to have a consistent wake time.

What does it mean? For me, my consistent wake time is typically around 7.00am. I am one of the 99.9 % of the people in this world who need between seven and eight hours of sleep. It’s a myth, except for a very tiny few of us, that we can survive on anything less than a long term.

If I need seven and a half hours’ sleep and a sleep cycle is around 90 minutes, that’s five sleep cycles. If my consistent wake time is 7.00am, then 5.30, 4.00, 2.30, 1.00, 11.30, then 11.30 needs to be my ultimate bedtime (when I go to sleep). If I went straight to sleep I’d get seven and a half hours’ sleep. In order to create the opportunity to have seven and a half hours’ sleep, I need to have a window of eight and a half hours.

For me, 10.30pm is when I need to be in bed at the latest. I do go to sleep quite quickly, but if it does take me a while, I’ve still got a good chance of getting those five sleep cycles. That’s one part of Nick’s idea, and the other is that if you think in terms of sleep cycles and not in terms of number of hours of sleep, you can then adapt what you do. If for example, you get in late.

If I get in 11.15pm and I’m not going to be able to get to bed and to sleep by 11.30pm, Nick’s idea is that you would wait for the next sleep cycle, which is 1.00am. You would start preparing yourself at 12.00 to fall asleep at 1:00am and then you’d get four full sleep cycles before your alarm or you wake up at 7.00am. The idea being, you don’t wake up in the middle of a sleep cycle groggy, tired, confused, but you actually feel quite rested because you’ve woken up at the end of a cycle.

Nick suggests if you get the chance to nap, you can always catch up on that missing sleep cycle or you can catch up on it later in the week. What’s your consistent wake time? Reverse engineer from there what time you need to be asleep by, and then figure out how big a window you need to leave yourself and what time therefore, you need to be in bed. It’s a simple idea – which I’ve been doing.

I’ve been trying naps when I can, which isn’t always that often, but I’ve also been working according to sleep cycles, not number of hours of sleep. I have found it’s empowering and that it’s helped. That’s the idea. The author is Nick Littlehales and his book is called ‘Sleep’. I really recommend reading this book – there are lots of ideas on what you can do to optimise your sleep.

What’s your Health IQ?

If you’re reading this, you’re are probably in a reasonably senior position, running your own business or have a busy life running the home and juggling other responsibilities. Either way, you’re busy. The convergent pressures of work and family life have probably meant that the time you did have to spend on health and fitness has disappeared. Why not talk to us and see how we can help.

Click here to take our test.

Leanne Spencer is an entrepreneur, coach, TEDx Speaker, author of Remove the Guesswork, and founder of Bodyshot Performance Limited. Bodyshot is a health and fitness consultancy that helps busy professionals get more energy by removing the guesswork around their health, fitness and nutrition. Visit or email [email protected] to register your interest in our services and connect with us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

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