Is sleep before midnight worth more than sleep after?
We've been seeing this question in the media recently and even hearing from some sleep experts that sleep before midnight is so much more important and better for us than sleep after midnight. If we’re a night owl that might be sending shivers down our spines. Fear not! We cleared this up once and for all with the help of our digital sleep tool Kip Advisor. And the answer?
This idea, if we’re honest, is absolute rubbish!
No, no, no! And a big fat…
This kind of advice really really annoys us because it’s this kind of poor, prescriptive and patronising, one-size-fits all advice that makes poor sleepers sleep worse.
Let us explain why this advice just isn't the case:
Sleep doesn’t work like this. Sleep isn’t better at a certain time! We have sleep stages, and no matter when we go to sleep, we will always go through these stages.
So, what are the four stages of sleep?
There’s non-REM 1, non-REM 2, non-REM 3, and REM sleep.
Really the ones that are most beneficial to us are non-REM 3 (or deep sleep) and REM sleep.
The first 2-3 hours of the night we are going to be in deep sleep, and this is where are body goes through recovery. Later, as we go through the night, we will enter more and more REM sleep, and this is when our body consolidates memory and builds emotional resilience. We can think of REM sleep like an overnight counselling session!
And no matter when we go to sleep, our bodies will always go through the cycle like that.
The problem with the advice that sleep is better before midnight, is that if we go to sleep at 9pm for example and we’re not ready for sleep, we will just lay there tossing and turning for hours on end! We will be trying to go to sleep at a time that isn’t right for us.
For some people however, this might work. If you’re a lark for example (or early riser) this could apply to you if your regular sleep schedule is to go to sleep at around 9-10pm, as you will potentially be getting good sleep before midnight.
But just make sure that your sleep schedule is matching your sleep type! If you’re an owl (late sleeper), go to bed after 11pm and get up after 8am, or if you’re a lark (and early riser), go to sleep between 8-10pm, and wake up between 4-6am. Or maybe you’re somewhere in between these two poles, and sit, like many of us, in the middle of this continuum. Working out where we are on this line and understanding our sleep type better will allow us to figure out how much sleep we need. If you don’t feel alert and active at around 10am, you might need a few extra hours - adjust as needed!
Sweet dreams: Create a sleep schedule that is right for you as an individual. Don’t have a sleep schedule that is dictated to you by somebody else. If you live with a sleep dictator, don’t let them ruin your sleep by trying to make you sleep in a way that just doesn’t work for you. And don’t listen to all the advice you hear around sleep, find out what works for you - and don’t forget to check our Kip Advisor for all our sleep expertise and advice!