If you struggle to get the rest you so desperately need, there’s one simple thing you can do. According to neurologist and sleep medicine specialist W. Chris Winter, MD, it’s as simple as setting your alarm for the same time every day—no matter how late you hit the hay the night before. In this excerpt from his new book The Sleep Solution ($26; amazon.com), Dr. Winter explains how sticking to that wake-up time will eventually train your brain to doze off at a consistent time too.
I have been asked frequently over the years the following question: “What is the single most important piece of advice for achieving your best sleep?” To me, it’s easy: pick a wake up time and stick with it!
When I ask you, “What time do you wake up in the morning?” the answer should be one simple time. If your answer to that question is, “I get up at 6:45 and usually go to the gym or run outside,” you get a gold star.
However, you probably have a problem if you answer something like this: “I usually go to bed at 11:00 except on the weekends when I go out with my friends and we stay out until 2:00 or 3:00 easily. I’m usually up around noon . . . no later than 2:00 p.m. on those days. On Tuesdays I try to go to bed early, like 9:00 because on Wednesday, I have to get up early for this boot camp exercise class. On those days, I go out to my car at lunch and sleep for 45 minutes. I feel pretty beat by the end of the week and often fall asleep early in the evening. If I do, I struggle to stay asleep and often have trouble falling asleep later. It’s really hard to get up for work on Monday . . . I’m often late. Every now and then, no more than once a month, I’ll use a sick day and stay home from work so I can sleep all day . . .”