Getting to sleep by midnight is a healthy practice for individuals to engage in, due to the fact that our bodies are synchronized to work with natural circadian rhythms. These rhythms are natural cycles that are brought on by daylight. Our bodies respond to them in various ways including how our body changes temperature and also how it releases hormones. Studies show us that,“…we tend to sleep during the times of our lowest body temperatures (during which our sense of alertness also seems to be at its lowest) and tend to rise as this temperature begins to rise. ” (S. , and Aronoff 52)
Trying to get to sleep before midnight has a lot of benefits due to these natural rhythms light begin taking effect in our bodies the early evening. As the sun goes down the amount of sun light absorbed by our retina starts triggering natural responses in our body. Melatonin, a well known hormone that helps to induce sleep, is one of many of the biochemical substances that undergoes changes in the evening. Specifically, “the pineal hormone melatonin starts to be secreted during the late evening hours, reaching a maximum level during the night and declining in the morning to its low daytime level. (Borbely, and Tononi)
When the body temperature begins to drop and our melatonin levels increase, we are most likely to start feeling drowsy. If we listen to our bodies and go to sleep at these first indications we are more likely to get a good night’s sleep. However, if we do not listen to our bodies indications that we’re tired we may wind up with problems such as poor sleep, fatigue, chronic sleep insomnia, and sleep deprivation.
By going to bed prior to midnight we are allowing our bodies the best chance to take advantage of the natural cycles of biochemical and light rhythms. The later a person stays awake the sooner they will begin to respond again to sunlight and an increase in body temperature as their body begins to prepare itself for the upcoming day. This may lead to an interruption in restful sleep, or a common feeling of drowsiness through out the day. To help prepare yourself for bedtime and a good night full of rest there are some very simple things you must arrange in order for success.
First you should limit the amount of stimulants you intake each day. Excessive amounts of caffeine, sugar or other stimulating chemicals will increase your metabolism and interfere with your ability to relax. It is also a good idea to choose a specific time during the night to go to bed and try to stick to this schedule as much as possible. You will notice when you make this a common practice that you naturally start to become sleepy and relaxed around your chosen bedtime.
It is wise to avoid exercising right before bed due to the increase of blood pressure and core temperature of your body which will again impact your natural circadian sleep rhythms. Drinking water or fluid can lead to sleep disruptions as you find yourself getting up in the middle of the night to relieve your bladder. Drink your before bedtime liquid at least two hours prior to your sleep time, that way your body will have enough time to process the fluid. Choose something relaxing to do before you go to bed, such as reading a novel or writing in a journal.
The best part about practicing good sleeping habits and getting to bed before midnight is that the benefits are feeling healthier and more refreshed when you awake in the morning. And the cost of doing so is only a little bit of your time and patience to learn how to listen to your body and what it is telling you when it is ready for rest. These simple things combined can lead to a happier and more alert individual during the day, and that by far is a wonderful benefit to going to sleep before midnight.