This Simple Trick Could Be The Key To Logging More Z’s Without Really Trying
Let’s be honest — we all play little sleep games with ourselves. You know, like procrastinating bedtime until midnight because if we fall asleep right away and sleep through the night with no problem, we’ll easily log a solid seven healthy hours of sleep by the time that alarm goes off at 7 a.m. And while those calculations seem to add up, they actually don’t.
UC Berkeley sleep expert Matthew Walker refers to this window of time we create for sleep as “sleep opportunity.” And the opportunity for sleep is often a lot different than the actual amount of time we end up sleeping.
In his book, Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams, Walker explains how this pattern works. If you call it a night at 10 p.m. and set your alarm for 6 a.m., your sleep opportunity is eight hours. However, the amount of time it takes you to drift off to sleep, any time spent tossing and turning in the middle of the night and pre-morning bathroom breaks all eat up some of this allotted time. Depending on the day, you’re probably going to really sleep for only seven of those hours.
What a stupidly simple concept, right? We can’t believe we never thought of it this way before.
Now, the scary thing is that most people only create a sleep opportunity of five to six and a half hours, which means that they’re only actually sleeping for four to six hours each night. And any sleep specialist will tell you that’s just not enough time — especially if you log such little sleep every night.
Luckily, there’s an incredibly easy solution to this problem. You don’t have to work out more, diet differently, pop melatonin or swear off alcohol before bed. Just widen that window of sleep opportunity! That way, even when sleep struggles are accounted for, you’ll still end up logging a solid amount of shut-eye.
Happy dreaming, everyone.
[h/t The Cut]