Can a Regular Bedtime Improve Your Health?

2016-06-16-SleepConsistency_Blog2_730x485

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.

 

51 Comments   Join the Conversation

51 CommentsLeave a comment

    • 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

  • 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

  • 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?

    • 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!

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