Can a Regular Bedtime Improve Your Health?


Imagine that you normally eat lunch at noon everyday. But today — surprise! — your boss calls a quick meeting at right at noon. You think, It’s okay, it’s no big deal, I’ll just eat right after. But as fifteen minutes pass, and then 20, and then 30, that “quick meeting” is starting to feel like a grueling marathon. By 1:00pm, your dull hunger pangs have become an angry hunger roar.

“You are starving, right?” says Michael Grandner, PhD, MTR, a Fitbit sleep advisor and director of the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. “It’s because you trained your body when to eat and, like a faithful Labrador, our bodies are trainable.”

Creatures of Habit

While a lot of us eat lunch around the same time everyday, the same can’t be said for the time we hit the sack. We stay up late on weekends, knowing that we won’t need to wake up for work, but then don’t feel tired when Sunday night rolls around—so we don’t get enough sleep for Monday morning, which throws our sleep schedule off-kilter for the rest of the week.

According to the National Sleep Foundation’s 2014 Sleep Index, 35 percent of adults say their sleep quality is only “fair” or downright “poor.” And a more recent poll conducted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation shows one out of three adults don’t get enough sleep—less than seven hours per night, which has been linked to several chronic health condition, including heart disease, kidney disease, and high blood pressure, as well as mental health issues such as  depression and anxiety.

Getting to bed at a consistent hour every single night can help. “The body loves regularity,” says Grandner. “We are creatures of habit.” Just like our body prepares itself and relies on food at the same times each day, the body does the same for sleep. “When we have a regular bedtime, our sleep biology can rally around that and train itself around that time,” Grandner explains. “If you keep it regular enough, your body knows when it is coming, so it can optimally prepare.”

How a Regular Bedtime Aids the Body

A lot happens during sleep. Your body is recharging its energy stores. Growth hormone is released, repairing and building tissue and muscle. Levels of cortisol (a.k.a. the stress hormone) fall during the night, so they can rise to a reasonable level in the morning and keep us alert. Immune function is bolstered, and levels of ghrelin and leptin are regulated to keep our feelings of hunger and fullness in check.

So, although we spend about a third of our life under the veil of sleep, it’s far from lost time. “Sleep is critical for many body functions and keeps many systems in balance,” says Grandner. “And your body has a much easier time doing that if it has a regular, predictable bedtime.”

If you get a regular bedtime, Grandner says you may begin to notice body benefits throughout the day (and beyond). You may notice you have better energy and more focus. You may notice that you get sick less often. You may make better dietary choices, and find that you are able to exercise more often and at higher intensities, because regular sleep “supports these metabolic and physical systems,” says Grandner.

How to Get Consistent

Like that friend who always shows up on your doorstep instead of calling ahead, your body prefers to know when sleep is coming—which means having a bedtime in place. “Otherwise, your body doesn’t really know when sleep is coming, so it can’t prepare,” Grandner says. “As a result, it has a harder time keeping all those systems in balance.

To keep a more consistent bedtime, Grandner says to “make sure that you give yourself enough time.” You know the hour you want to hit the sack, so think ahead. Get into your PJs and brush your teeth early, so you don’t wake yourself up in the process of preparing for bed. Power down your technology and gadgets at least 30 minutes before bedtime, since the emitted blue light can keep you awake.

Once you climb between the sheets, have some quiet time. Read a magazine or book (not an e-reader) with a small nightstand light, if you’re still not totally ready for Zzzz. Pretty soon, you’ll be a creature of beneficial bedtime habits.

Set Your Sleep Schedule with Fitbit

In the Fitbit app, you can now navigate to your Sleep dashboard where you will be able to view your bedtime patterns and set a goal for the number of hours that feels right for you. Once your Sleep Goal is set, you will also be able to schedule a personalized wake-up time, complete with silent alarm to help ease you out of slumber. You’ll also get a recommendation for the best time to hit the sack, and have the option to set a bedtime reminder, too.

Once your Sleep Goal is set, all you have to do is wear your Fitbit tracker to bed and it will automatically record your sleep and help keep your Zzzz on track.


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    • I am in a similar situation with my husband, who has video games and TV shows’ sounds going on at the same time I am going to sleep.

      • I also am one of those people who can not sleep so I stay up late watching tv. It us to cause so much problems in my marriage! But we came up with a solution that worked for both of us! I now wear bluetooth headphone and keep the volume of the tv set off and then we have an extra king size pillow that I put at the head of the bed and make sure it keep the light of the tv set from hitting him in the face. I also always set my tv set to turn it self of in 2 hours so once I drift of to sleep the light doesn’t wake me up during the night. I bought a beat brand headphone it cost around $200.00 from costco’s but it’s worth it’s weight in gold. stays charged for 40 hours and will quick charge in 15 mins! I do have to constantly have to re-sync it with my tv, but I think that is a issue with my tv because on my other tv I have no problems. If you have a tv that is not bluetooth, you can call your cable provider, we have dish and for 15.00 they sold us something we added to their box and it made it bluetooth ready!

    • Same here he sleeps 2a-12noon. I sleep 8:30p-4:00a. He would wake me every night when he came in from work at midnight then again when he climbed into bed. Now I had to tell him to stop coming into bedroom until bedtime and come in quietly no lights etc. when my children move out we will definitely sleep in separate rooms and it will work beautifully for our life style.

    • I suggest that if you know that you will need to go to the toilet at 5 ish make sure you go to bed at 8 or 9pm. You can then get 7 or 8 hours sleep and as the old adage says – The early bird gets the worm. Sleep studies have shown that it can take 2 months to learn a new sleep routine, but the benefits are usually worth it.
      Try starting your day when your body naturally wakes- at 5.
      Good Luck.

    • Good question! To help manage your silent alarms, check out this help article to help you turn them off. You cannot turn of sleep tracking if the tracker supports auto sleep-tracking. In this case, you’ll need to take off your Fitbit tracker before going to bed so that it does not track your sleep. Hope this helps!

  • I’m having just few hrs sleep I thing that habit is keeping me with no attention,no energy enough to complete any off my daily golds …. ?

    • In order to be able to fall asleep properly, we need to reset our biological clock each day, by getting out in the daylight, preferably in the morning.

    • My Fitbit tells me that I only had 1 hours sleep, in fact I slept like a log for 9 hours. Why and how does the fit bit tell if I am asleep. My wife tells me I turn over several times whilst asleep

      • Mine done that 1 night and its because I had it to loose.Try tightening it a little and have it about 2 finger widths up your arm from your wrist bone. I have never had a problem since.

      • Mine done the same 1 night.. Try tightening the strap another notch as if it’s to loose it will not detect your heartbeat. Also put it about 2 finger widths higher than your wrist bone.. Doing the above worked for me..
        Good luck.

  • I’m up by 7:00a.m. to get my 8 year old grandson ready for school. After I take him to school, I go home and try to eat a small breakfast. Then I start all my chores like wash, cleaning, grocery shopping, etc. I have 3 grown kids living here now, so there is a lot going on at all times so I got into a bad habit of having me time and staying up watching t.v.while the house is quite not going to bed until 2:00 or 3:00am then I start all over again the next day. I know it will just take will power. Any other suggestions? I need more sleep.

    • Get out in the sunshine, in the morning. In order to be able to fall asleep properly, we need to reset our biological clock each day, by getting out in the daylight, preferably in the morning.

    • Have you asked the grown kids to clean, do laundry, or cook or buy groceries? Sleep is a must. Stop being a martyr.

    • Try having your ‘me time’ early in the morning maybe. You’d be amazed the energy you can get from watching a sunrise. Many people have a devotional (prayer, Bible study, meditation, whatever) time in the mornings. Gives you a nice start to your day! Bless you for helping with your grandson. <3

    • You may have sleep apnea. You are not getting restful sleep, although you think you are. If you fall asleep anytime you get still in a chair, etc. You need to see your doctor. Or it may be a problem with you Fitbit.

    • If u have 3 “grown” children living under ur roof why r you the one getting up at 7 with a grandchild?! You’ve raised your children. Let them raise theirs. Just saying.

  • I just bought the Fitbit. The Fitbit is saying that my restlessness pretty high. (I think). Last night I was at 27 times.
    What does this mean and is this normal, bad?

      • Me too. I have always known that I have a sleep problem. I even had two sleep studies that were useless because I didn’t sleep. Now I can prove that I don’t sleep. However, since wearing my fitbit, and seeing the results in black and white, I have made some lifestyle adjustments, and they are working. I am now sleeping starting to get seven and eight hours some nights. Like you I still have very restless sleep and wake often. I am impressed with the progress I am making though. Maybe soon I will be able to sleep straight through. I do still occasionally only get about an hour, but that is not an incorrect reading.

        • Hi –
          Just a thought from a sleep apnoea sufferer; I had exactly the same hospital where I couldn’t sleep due to awful bed, plastic mattress and pillow etc., and the noise. In the end, they fixed me up with a machine I could wear at home which confirmed I had sleep apnoea, and having CPAP therapy has made all the difference. Perhaps you could enquire if this is an option? If it is SA that is making you restless, it is deadly if untreated – not so much for the risk of not starting to breathe again (although there is that!) but for all the secondary issues SA causes like high bp etc.

    • Hullo Greg. I would recommend that you submit to a real sleep study. If you really are a restless sleeper there are things that can be done to help you.
      I had a sleep study done 2 years ago and it was a real eye-opener. The doctor helped me enormously and I’m happier and healthier in every facet of my life now.
      Quality sleep is enormously important.

    • Hey BJ! It knows when you are sleeping, it knows when you’re awake… by using technology to detect this! By using a combination of factors, your tracker is automatically able to detect when you’re asleep. Could you please clarify which colors you’re referring to? Thanks!

  • It would be amazing to have the feature where the silent alarm went off within so many minutes of a set alarm time during a light cycle of sleep. I’m a heavy sleeper and the silent alarm unfortunately does nothing for me if I’m in a deep sleep. I had a previous tracker that did that and it worked so well for me, otherwise, I absolutely love my Fitbit.

    • Jen, I couldn’t agree more!!! For some of us (clearly both of us) having an alarm that will wake up up during light sleep, is a godsend!!! Ime pretty sure my fitbi the flex did that, so it was disappointing to read this and find out my upgraded fitbi the doesn’t. However, I have downloaded apps that do the same thing but it could never be as accurate as something that even knows your heart rate and throw out a whole Graf regarding sleep quality. Plus, idk about you, but I’d rather not sleep with my phone literally in my bed lol.
      I hope u took the advice for the suggestion. If u did, I’d be to know if u recieved a response. I think I will request this as well. If you can join conversations, I will look for u, to add my request. More power in numbers.
      Thank u for bringing the topic up! Besides it being an important topic, due to the correlation between sleep & health, I would have spent hrs thing to figure out how to find a setting for something I don’t have. Lol
      Thanks again!

  • I’ve only had my Fitbit since Sunday.
    I set the sleep calculator and every morning when I read it there is a break of three to four hours per night that is says I was awake and went back to sleep. I would know if I was up for three to four hours and I havent been. This morning it said I woke up two hours before I really did. Any ideas what’s going on?

  • I have no trouble going to sleep my problem is staying asleep no matter what time I go to bed I get only a few hours sleep

    • I take my meds at 11.30 every night but don’t go to sleep even though I can’t keep my eyes open and very tired. I feel it’s due to torn legements in both shoulders.
      Left is very pistil so sleep on right. After a certain time it gets sore as well. This makes me restless and awake. My Fitbit is right on all the time.

  • I go to bed about 10:00-10:30 and my Fitbit Alta does not record properly . It will show results of 10:30 to 1:45 and then 3:18 to 6:38 , what happens to the loss time .

  • I go to bed but can not go to sleep sometimes I lay there for hours and can not fall asleep so I may get only 3 or 4 hours of sleep and then I am tired the next day what am I supposed to do ?

  • What do I do if my sleep time can be anywhere from 7:00 PM to 1;30 AM. Last night I was busy on the computer and doing things around the house when I looked at the clock, it was 1:30AM. I Looked at the clock very confused and wondered why it was so dark at 1:30 in the afternoon. Thats my problem. I forgot to say I’m retired and when ever i wake up I start doing things. it could be 1 in the morning or 7, it doesn’t mater because i just went back to bed when ever i was tired.

  • So I’ve had this charge 2 for a few months. Anyway, I clean houses for a living. What sux,is that it’s not waterproof, so I always feel cheated out of a justifiable work out, but my hands are in and out of water so much, I don’t want to break it.I work out also, then the problem is, in stopwatch mode, the screen clears so quickly. And it actually makes working out less efficient(because I’m not that great at multi tasking), and have to stop and reset and punch the thing to get my heart rate, or whatever to come up, which slows down the whole workout.Is there any way to make the display visible longer? I think this may be more trouble than it’s worth. I’m really trying to give it a chance though.

  • I think FITBIt has some glitches to work out.I question the accuracy. Some days it seems completely crazy, like watching a movie, I burned 1000 or so calories. For the price I think it should always be accurate, and not just averaging. I think it’s just another device we think we need. Have you seen all the different types of fitbits? Just make one good solid accurate waterproof product, charge $150 retail and it would be a success. In my opinion that is . 🙂

    • You do realize you have a basal metabolic rate everyday just to keep breathing, right? You’d be surprised how high that number is. Even while you are sitting and doing nothing, you are still burning calories. Of course we need exercise for our health, so it’s not only about calories.

  • I have bad problems I watch television in bed I go to bed around 8;30 I’m still watching TV at 11:30 I can’t fall a sleep I have tried to shut TV off all I do is toss and turn I go to couch so not to wake my husband I get to sleep and wake up 3 or 4 times a night it is alful please give me some suggestions

  • I have a Fitbit Charge 2. It displays the time, steps and heart rate. I didn’t feel well and upon checking my heart rate, I noticed it was fluctuating between 58 and 110. I was not exercising or walking fast. I was taking it easy as I did not feel well. I felt a fluttering feeling in my chest. I ended up in the ER and was admitted overnight. Now I have to visit a cardio and get an Echo and wear Holter monitor. BTW, I’m 86 and usually do 10,000 steps a day. Not now, my heart rate is still gyrating whether I’m sitting or walking slowly.

  • Being a caregiver takes longer to get to bed. My husband is TBI and DAV he likes to stay up til 11-1130. If he’s not ready for bed at this point he gets to bed after midnight and I’m up at least til midnight 1 am. His CNA comes at 6:30 am. If we go to bed at 9pm we have to start st 8. Trying to go to bed no later than 10pm. CNAS only come in the am. Love him so much and wish we could both get to bed early.

  • Being a caregiver takes longer to get to bed. My husband is TBI and DAV he likes to stay up til 11-1130. If he’s not ready for bed at this point he gets to bed after midnight and I’m up at least til midnight 1 am. His CNA comes at 6:30 am. If we go to bed at 9pm we have to start st 8. Trying to go to bed no later than 10pm. CNAS only come in the am. Love him so much and wish we could both get to bed early.

  • Being a caregiver takes longer to get to bed. My husband is TBI and DAV he likes to stay up til 11-1130. If he’s not ready for bed at this point he gets to bed after midnight and I’m up at least til midnight 1 am. His CNA comes at 6:30 am.
    If we go to bed at 9pm we have to start st 8. Trying to go to bed no later than 10pm. Love him so much and wish we could both get to bed early.

  • I commute into/out of NYC with a work schedule of 8:30am to 5:30pm. Since the railroad has specific schedules and prone to issues, and subways are another issue especially at night,how does one get a consistent night sleep. Especially without walking in the front door and going straight to bed?

  • Unfortunately I am on the night shift! 7p-7a three times per week! The up side is I have the 3 shifts in a row…. I cannot wait to go to a day shift schedule!! Ugh!

  • Great article- Jenna you hit on many keep points that will be very helpful in TRAINING my body to have a better sleep routine. #1 – it’s my responsibility to train myself. To do that I need to be open to the concept.
    I’ve learned so much about my sleeping and EXCUSES to my old behaviors that I know it will take time. With your sugggestions I have a much better chance to do it. THANK YOU for a very well written article. I’ve already set NEW HEALITHER goals and I’m starting today!

  • according to my fit bit I have a lot of restless times during the night. I wear a sea pap, cant sleep without it. I have fibromyalgia and take amitriptyline before bed.Doesn’t make much difference what I do at night I still have restless times.

  • I’m a new Fit bit wearer. Thought I was getting adequate sleep. I’m shocked that my sleep is lacking. Grateful to have a tool to show me this! Between young adult children still living at home coming and going at all hours and an early rising , contractor husband, I’m losing lots of zzz’s! No wonder my energy can be low at times and I can’t think and speak clearly sometimes. Really looking forward to working this out and improving the quality of my life! Thanks Fit bit!

  • I’ve been wearing my Fitbit every day since l got it . After two weeks it has stopped giving me my sleep stages. I’ve tried tightening the band but it still hasn’t worked right. Any suggestions?

  • My bracelet is not picking up when I go to bed. Last night I went to bed before 10:30 and it showed 1:30. What’s up with that

  • My Fitbit does not show all the hours of sleep that I am getting. My bracelet is in the right place according to instructions, is snug and tracks everything else appropriately. I have been using it for approximately 10 months. Any ideas what might be the problem?

  • I go to bed at about ten and gebpnerally are asleep within minutes. My Fitbit indicates I Donny go to sleep until 3am or so
    , every night. Makes no sense to me so it appears I have a problem unit. Any commen?

  • Hi . I get up at 2.30 every morning except for Sunday. Home about 9.30 from work. What would be the best sleep pattern for me as mine is a split sleep. Any good advice please

  • I found this article very interesting. I just bought my FItbit yesterday. I like the ability to track sleep patterns. I would like to start tracking my sleep patterns with my fitbit, but I work at night. Will I be able to track my sleep patterns being as I sleep during the day?

  • I go to bed by midnight and get up around 8 to 8:30 am. I am 71 and retired. I am a restless sleeper and wake up frequently. But my Fitbit never credits me for more than 4 hours each night. Sometimes one hour at the beginning of the night and one hour just before morning. So none of my sleep data is worth anything. Makes me wonder if the heart rate data is any good.

  • I have ra and when I go to bed I hurt. My fitbit says it’s about an hour and a half till I get to sleep and I wake several times in the night. I generally get up by 8 am.
    Not enough sleep. Helpful suggestions?

  • Your advice seems to take no account of age or any need to go to the loo in the night which affects many people over the age of say 45

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