Updated: Aug 1, 2022
Our body has an internal clock called the circadian clock that regulates our body functions, especially our sleep and wake cycles. Multiple factors can influence this clock. The most natural influence is sunlight. When our body is exposed to natural sunlight in the morning our body clock gets programmed to know that day has broken and that the appropriate body functions need to be scheduled and started.
Our circadian clock controls our circadian rhythms which are typically 24-hour cycles and these form part of the body’s internal clock that runs in the background to carry out essential functions. Different systems of the body follow circadian rhythms that are synchronized with the master clock in the brain. This master clock is directly influenced by environmental cues, such as light, which is why circadian rhythms are tied to the cycle of day and night.
When properly aligned, a circadian rhythm can promote consistent and restorative sleep. But when this circadian rhythm is thrown off, it can create significant sleeping problems, including insomnia.
Our natural sleep time is 3 to 4 hours after sunset and for a period of 8 hours. So if sunset is at 6 pm, your sleep time should be between 9:00 pm and 5:00 am or 10:00 pm and 6:00 am.
This is the time when our body will get the most restorative sleep possible for it.
There are many people today who will contest this information. Some would say, 6 hours of sleep is sufficient. Some would say, 4 hours is sufficient. If you are able to function well for years, without any side effects or impairment with this amount of sleep, then your body may need only that amount at this stage of your life.
Suppose you are experiencing any symptoms of prolonged sleep deprivation such as lack of focus, health issues, poor productivity, memory loss, etc. In that case, the amount of sleep you are getting is not sufficient for you, or the time that you are going to sleep is not serving you well.
The ideal time to go to sleep for those with the natural circadian rhythm is as given above. That is you need to go to sleep between 9:00 pm to 11:00 pm and wake up between 4:00 am to 7:00 am.
Just remember, if you are feeling sleepy anytime after 8:00 pm, grab the shuteye and give your body and mind the rest it is seeking. Your body knows what is right for you. Learn to listen and submit to its requirements.