Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles Sleep is really, really important, and unfortunately, we just don't get enough of it. And I think one of the reasons for that is that our lives our increasingly dependent on time tables and schedules, and things that tend to start early in the day, at a specific time, which makes us subject our lives to the tyranny of evil alarm clocks. Unfortunately, we don't use these same alarm clocks to tell us when to go to bed often, so for a lot of us, getting to bed on time to get adequate sleep is tough. I know I've had this problem and if you're watching this video, you've probably had this problem as well. But this is not a pity party, this is not an empathy video, this is a solution video. And today, I'm hoping I can give you some tips for building the habit of getting to bed on time and thus, getting adequate sleep. But before I can get into those tips, we do have to answer the question, "What time should you go to bed?" Well, everyone has individually different sleep needs, but we can use two main pieces of information to establish a kind of baseline rule, if you will. Number one. According to the National Sleep Foundation, people between the ages of 18 and 25 want to get between seven to nine hours of sleep a night, on average. Also, we know that when you're sleeping, your brain goes through multiple iterations of what's called the sleep cycle. It starts off at a higher level of brain activity and then kind of comes down to a really low level for a while, before shooting up into a very high level of activity, called REM, or Rapid Eye Movement. Now in a perfect ideal world, where every alarm clock had long since been smashed to tiny, tiny pieces, you would naturally wake up at the end of one of these sleep cycles. And these sleep cycles take on average about 90 minutes. But, when you're using an alarm clock, you run the risk of waking up in the middle of one, which is going to make you feel like a truck hit you. So, you want to try to time when you fall asleep to wake up at the end of one of these sleep cycles. And if you want to make this really, really easy, head on over to a website called "Sleepyti.me," where you can input when you need to wake up, and it will give you some times where you should aim to fall asleep. Now keep in mind that the average adult takes about 14 minutes to fall asleep after the lights go out, so pick the window that works for you, add about 15 minutes to it, and that should be your established bedtime. And the key word there is established. You really want to precommit to going to bed at this time, instead of just being real casual about it. A lot of people just go to bed when they feel tired, which would work in a perfect ideal world without those alarm clocks, but it doesn't really work in the modern world. And the reason for that, well to explain that, we're going to have to get into some science. Basically, your sleep is regulated by two biological mechanisms. One is called the "Sleep-Wake Homeostaic Process," and this works kind of, sort of, like an internal timer. It basically records when you slept last, how long you slept, and then it creates this internal desire to sleep, which increases in intensity as time goes on. And this process is complemented by what's called the "Circadian Clock," which is a mechanism that basically syncs your biological processes with the day and night cycle. Basically keeps you awake and active during the day, and wanting to sleep at night. Unfortunately, in the modern world, we have a lot of artificial light that we expose ourselves to, and this can actually dampen the secretion of a hormone in the brain called melatonin, which makes you feel tired. So, when you're up at night staring at screens and having all these bright lights on you, your brain thinks basically that it's daytime, and you don't feel tired until it's too late. So, number one tip here, if you're getting up at a specific time, then go to bed at that pre-established bedtime you've set for yourself. And I've found that when you stick to this and you do it for a while, it actually becomes a habit and your body responds in kind. It will start feeling tired when it's supposed to. Now, the main impediment to progress in building this habit is the fact we tend to do stuff that's really highly mentally active late at night, whether it's homework, or Netflix, or video games, or whatever it is, we tend to do stuff that causes us to push our bedtimes off further and further. Which is why I think one of the most important things you can do to increase your chances of going to bed on time, is to create what I like to call a "wind-down ritual." Basically, a sequence of activities that sort of bring down your brain activity, calm you, relax you, and get your brain to the context of knowing that the day's about over and it's time to start going to bed. Now if you can structure your wind-down ritual in a number of ways. A lot of people like to get ready for bed early, brush their teeth, have a shower. A lot of people like to do some light reading or journaling, or maybe even have a cup of tea and meditate. You can basically do whatever you want, but I have a few tips for making it as effective as it can possibly be. Number one. Have an alarm for it. Have something on your watch or your phone that tells you, "Hey bro, it's time to start winding down. It's time to stop playing video games or finish up the episode of TV you're on, or stop working and start winding down." Number two. You're building a habit, just like with any other, there are certain things you can do to increase your success in building that habit, and one of those is to track your progress. So us a tool like "Habitica," or "Coach.me," or you can use something like Excel or a journal to record the time that you start your routine and the time when you go to bed. So you've got data and you can actually see your progress, and that will in turn increase the likelihood that it will become a strong habit. Finally, I think the first step to your wind-down routine should be to stop using the internet for the day. Either turn off your computer or maybe use a Chrome extension, like Stay Focused, to set a time where your internet access gets shut off, because I know that personally the internet is the worst offender among the host of distractions that can keep me pushing my bedtime off. It's so easy to say, "Oh, it will only take 30 seconds to check this email," or "30 seconds to look at this stat thing," and then an hour's gone by. So the internet has to go. So now we've got a set bedtime, we've got the wind-down ritual, we're building that as intelligently as possible, and there's one last tip I wanted to share with you which comes from the author Gretchen Rubin, who wrote, "The Happiness Project," and also the book, "Better than Before," and she says, "Remind yourself how great it feels to wake up naturally, before the alarm goes off, without that sickening jolt into wakefulness." Then, when you're surfing the internet at 11:30 p.m., ask yourself, 'Am I making a good trade-off?'" I really like this tip because it's all about pausing and deliberately doing the cost benefit analysis and asking yourself, "Is the goal I want a little bit later more important than the thing I can get right now?" Because remember, as humans, we're wired to discount the value of future rewards and increase the value of what we can get now. But, I think the value of waking up and feeling well-rested is a little bit more important than being able to check one more Facebook post. And if you tell yourself that deliberately, I think you're going to get your brain to agree as well. So that is what I've got for you today in terms of tips on getting to bed on time. Hopefully, you've found them helpful and I do know that this is only one part of the equation. Once you've actually gotten into bed, you do need to fall asleep, and I know most of us have a pretty easy time of that, but I know some people don't, so in a future video, I'm going to have some extra tips on falling asleep on time and getting better quality sleep. Before I go, I wanted to update you on my reading progress, because in the video I did a couple of weeks ago on how to read more books, I told you I was committing to read 25 pages a day without fail for at least the next three months, and I can tell you that now it is 19 days into the challenge and I have done it, and so far I've read 472 pages, which is awesome for me. I've never read that much nonfiction before on a consistent basis, and I've picked books that had a lot of like crazy science in them, they were pretty dense, and I'm finding that as I've built this habit, as I'm doing it every single day, my mind is more easily able to slip into a flow state. It's more easily able to stay focused and not get distracted or bored. So, there's definitely a lot of merit in building a daily reading habit beyond just the accumulation of pages. And to give you a bit of an update on the books I've been reading, I did finish the first book that I chose to read, which was "Spark, The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain." And let me tell you, I love this book. I knew exercise was really important before it, but I never knew how it affected all the parts of the brain and solves a lot of the different problems our brains can have. I like this book so much that I actually invited the author, Dr. John Ratey, onto my podcast and the episode with him will be coming out in a couple of weeks, so subscribe to the podcast if you haven't, and keep your eyes peeled for that one. I actually finished that book when I was out in Colorado and, of course, I had to stop at multiple different bookstores when I was in Boulder and Denver. And when I was at the Boulder one, I picked up a book called, "Good Calories, Bad Calories," by Gary Taubes, and I've heard this is one of like the best nutrition books out there and I wanted to really dig into the science of nutrition, so I've started reading this one.