How to Wake Up on the Right Side of the Bed

Couple not experiencing the negative effects of sleep deprivation.

If you’ve ever been accused of waking up on the wrong side of the bed, there may be something to that. “It’s fairly well-established in scientific literature that adequate sleep is important for mood regulation,” says Fitbit sleep advisor Michael T. Smith, Jr., PhD, professor of psychiatry, neurology, and nursing and director of the Center for Behavior and Health at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.

In fact, people who habitually get less than eight hours of sleep a night may have a harder time tuning out the type of negative thoughts that can contribute to anxiety and depression, finds a recent study in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry. Sleep loss affects how the brain functions, especially the frontal lobes which inhibit those repetitive, intrusive thoughts that can lead to worry and anxiety, says Smith.

Studies also show that inadequate rest can impede your ability to feel pleasure. But that’s not all: When you’re sleep deprived, your brain also has a harder time working effectively. “The first thing to go is executive functioning,” says Smith. “Reaction time is slowed, creativity is affected, and you won’t be as mentally flexible.”

The good news? Many of the negative effects of sleep deprivation are preventable.

Optimize Your Sleep

To support your brain’s mood regulation and cognitive function, the best remedy could be adequate sleep. What does that look like?

Everybody’s different, but the vast majority of adults need seven to eight hours of relatively uninterrupted sleep, says Smith. If your sleep is fragmented—say, you get three hours, wake up, and then get another two hours versus simply getting five hours straight—the negative effects of sleep deprivation can be worse, because you don’t have the chance to progress into the deeper stages of sleep that help you feel restored and rejuvenated.

Check your sleep data in the Fitbit app. Although it’s normal to experience multiple periods of restlessness each night, the maximum number of times per night that you wake up so fully that you remember it the next morning is two, says Smith. (Unless you’re older and are waking up to use the bathroom—that’s common.)

Quality sleep is best achieved by maintaining a consistent sleep schedule that feels right for you. People are “genetically predisposed” to different bedtimes and rise times, says Smith, hence the night owl and early bird phenomenon. “Preferably, you go to bed when you want to go to bed, and wake when you want to wake,” he says. Try using Fitbit’s sleep tools to set a schedule and stick to it.

If adhering to a regular schedule isn’t possible, monitoring how long it takes you to fall asleep and wake up can help you figure out whether your sleep schedule is out of whack. “Follow the 30-minute rule,” says Smith. “If it takes you more than 30 minutes to fall asleep, or you begin waking up 30 minutes before you set your alarm, see your doc.” If you feel “content” with the amount of rest you’re getting—if you’re feeling happy, healthy and alert—then you’re probably getting enough.

16 Comments   Join the Conversation

16 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Adults who get eight hours sleep must be living on another plant. The only people I know who get this much sleep are my grandchildren.

  • Rotating shift work puts a damper on sleep for me. Starting from 5 am till 9.30 pm over an 8 week cycle is a challenge. That said, a good reminder to focus on getting as close to 8 hours as possible. A focus on shift worker issues would be good from time to time.

  • After read your topic I realize that I have a problem about sleeping ( I usually take more than 30 minutes to sleep and wake up sooner than I expect). Thank for this useful topic!

  • While bedroom temperatures can vary over a wide range with no significant effect on sleep, it has recently been shown that poor bedroom air quality has a measurably negative effect on sleep and the next-day performance of officework. A good tip for falling asleep rapidly and sleeping well is to ensure that your bedroom is well-ventilated, either by opening a window or a door. CO2 levels should be well below 1000ppm, just as they should in an office or classroom, but measuremets show that in the majority of bedrooms they are regularly above 2500ppm.

  • As part of my service we currently support children and young people with their sleep to optimise health (both mental and physical). As part of this we are developing pathways to packages of care for them. In this process I came across a book called “Sleep Smarter” by Shawn Stevenson. Very interesting and very easy read. Has many useful tips and strategies to improving sleep, regardless of your situation or work you can still do little things that may add up to make a big difference.

    • I am wondering how and to whom you offer ‘sleep services?’ My 8 year old grandson seems to be having a hard time getting to sleep – his sleep deprivation making him less of the happy boy he used to be. His parents have tried all the obvious tricks.

  • Good info, usually, since I don’t get enough sleep. But, now my Charge 2 tracker no longer syncs with my iPhone. So I ave no Idea of my sleep, hours with 250 steps, etc. Tracker still records steps for the day only. Boo.

  • I love this information I have to get my band fixed but when I do how does the timer work for it ? It would be a great help if someone could explain it to me thanks Tammy

  • When I first got my FitBit (about 18 months ago), I tried wearing it to bed for the first few weeks. Turns out that everytime I rolled over onto my FitBit wrist, I would wake up! I’d love to track my sleep, but it doesn’t make sense to wear it to bed if it keeps waking me up! Has anyone else experienced this?

  • I hear about 8 hours of sleep, and I’m not even sure what that is. My Fitbit says I get 4 to 5 hours a night, with another hour or two of restlessness. I know that isn’t enough. But I think 6 would be more than enough

  • As I have gotten older, my sleep cycle has changed to several interruptions a night. The primary reason is pain in joints or muscles as they age. The solutions basically take medical and physical therapy to work on the cause. Usually through exercise and physical therapy when needed. My fitbit tracking shows in black and white, when sleep is n ok t right.

  • At 74 years, I can’t say I have EVER routinely gotten enough sleep. 6 sleep studies and as many doctors, still 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hrs is normal. More is a bonus. I function. I am happy. But some days, I just exist. Meds or no.

  • For the first time since I was in college 50 years ago I am having trouble falling asleep at night; used to be asleep immediately and could sleep anywhere. Now I lay awake until it starts getting light and sleep until noon. I lost my sister Februry 21st, had a grand mal seizure 2 days later, had to have surgery to replace my failed VNS April 2nd and then had kidney stones. I am sure this has contributed to my problem along with not driving due to the seizure and my last uncle’so passing at 95 in May. I have tried several things but nothing has worked so far.

If you have questions about a Fitbit tracker, product availability, or the status of your order, contact our Support Team or search the Fitbit Community for answers.

Please note: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately after submission.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *