FEELING tired as you read this? You are not alone.
Just one in ten people wake up refreshed, according to a new poll, while two-thirds of us are not happy with the amount of sleep we get.
What if you could change all that simply by going to bed earlier?
According to Jeff Sanders, author of The 5 AM Miracle, going to bed at 9pm and getting up at 5am could really boost your health.
He says following this sleep pattern improves energy levels and quality of sleep, increases daily productivity, boosts your mood and improves mental clarity, writing: “You can free up time, create mental space and reduce stress.”
Scientists from Northwestern University, Chicago, have found that those who are routinely exposed to light earlier in the day are more likely to be slimmer and become satiated sooner during meal times. And Finnish researchers say morning larks are likely to have healthier habits than night owls, who are prone to drinking more and smoking.
A recent study published in the journal European Psychiatry found that those who go to bed earlier and get up earlier are less likely to be impulsive or risk takers. They are also more likely to be conscientious and agreeable.
Professor Paul Gringras, a sleep expert at Evelina London Children’s Hospital, said: “Most of us do not get enough sleep and many are sleep deprived. A good sleep pattern is essential for good health. It influences everything from your risk of heart disease to your concentration, hormones and mood.”
THE SUN NEWSPAPER in the UK asked couples to test the findings:
– No technology or screen time after 7pm
– Be in bed with the lights out at 9pm
– Set alarm for 5am
– Don’t hit snooze when alarm goes off
So just how easy is it to change your sleep routine?
Six readers were asked to go to bed at 9pm and get up at 5am for one week — and here they reveal how they got on.
Sara and Adrian often rely on coffee and energy drinks
Usual bedtime: Between 11pm and 2am
New bedtime: 9pm
Sara Jayne Clarke, 27, and fiancé Adrian Clark, 35, waste time in bed every evening looking at videos on their phones, checking social media and watching TV. Stay-at-home mum Sara and her partner Adrian, a customer service assistant, from Worcester, regularly stay awake until the early hours after putting their two-year-old son Corey to bed between 7pm and 8pm.
Sara reports to the paper: “We’re both always tired during the day as we both go to bed between 11pm and 2am. I play on my phone in bed at night and rely on daily energy drinks and coffee to keep me going throughout the day. “Adrian didn’t have any problems at all adjusting to our new 9pm bed time but it took me a few days not to feel tired when my alarm went off at 5am.“By the fourth day I was able to make it through the day without an energy drink – the first time in a long time. By the end of the week I’d ditched them completely.”
“Now we’re into it and feeling better for it, with more energy during the day, so we will try to keep it up. I’m not sure if it will work long term as it’s quite an early time to go to bed and restricts you from a lot of things but we’ll see how we go.”
Adrian says: “I found it easy to drop off on the first day. I made a point of not going on my phone and just closing my eyes and it seemed to work. “Getting up the next morning was quite hard, but I managed the day OK with just the usual cup of tea.“By the fourth day I was used to getting up earlier and it was nice getting up, having a shower and being ready to face the world without rushing at all. I no longer need an energy drink to get me through the day.“On the last day I was awake before my alarm. It’s been an enjoyable experience and I have surprised myself. I’ll definitely try to stick to this new routine.”
Will’s lifestyle often keeps him out and about late into the night
Usual bedtime: Midnight in week, 4am weekends
New bedtime: 9pm
Party boy Will Sharman’s lifestyle sees him regularly going to bed in the early hours of the morning.
The 23-year-old office worker from Guildford, Surrey, usually relies on a lunchtime nap at work to get him through the day.
Will says: “I don’t normally get to bed until at least midnight during the week, at the weekend it’s more like 3am or 4am. After work I go to the gym then I’ll either head out on a date or go for some drinks with my mates, so I’m always getting into bed late.
“I’ll go for a power nap during my lunch break on most days. There’s a sofa in the common room that I can kip on and 20 minutes normally sorts me out.
“Then, after the gym, the workout buzz keeps me going for the evening – I find that if I stop I tend to fall asleep. “It was hard going to bed at 9pm to begin with as I knew my mates were out and it was also still light outside. I struggled to get to sleep for the first couple of evenings and woke up a few times, so getting up earlier than usual was even harder. I stopped needing to have my usual lunchtime nap at work. “I had a nap at work for the first few days and felt really lethargic but as the days went on it did get easier to get to sleep early.
“I started feeling more refreshed when I woke up, although it was still hard to get up at 5am. By the fourth day I didn’t feel like I needed my lunchtime nap and I had a lot more energy generally. I still struggled getting up but it was great to be able to skip the naps. On the last day I had the energy for a gym session and a golf session after work – so the new bedtime routine definitely had a positive effect on me. “I’m not sure it’s something I could keep up as I did miss having nights out but I’ll definitely try to get to bed earlier some nights.”
Helen & Matt
Helen and Matt initially found the task a bit of a struggle
Usual bedtime: Between midnight and 1am
New bedtime: 9pm
Helen Best, 33, a book publicist, and husband, Matt, 40, a driving instructor, have no set bedtime routine.
The couple, from Portsmouth, have a daughter, Sienna, who goes to bed when she wants.
Helen says: “I never wake up feeling refreshed.“We go to bed at different times every night and our daughter is following in our footsteps. We’re terrible for switching phones off and watching TV in bed before we sleep – so that probably keeps us awake for longer. On our first night going to bed at 9pm we didn’t sleep properly so we were shattered in the morning. It got easier as the week went on as our body clocks adjusted. We were more productive during the day and we had time to sit down and have breakfast together, which we never normally do.
“I also found, due to having the extra time during the day, that I got more stuff done around the house and chores too. I missed having time together in the evenings but that time was always spent watching TV and not doing productive things..Although I think 9pm is too early to go to bed, we are actively trying to get to bed earlier now as I have experienced the health benefits.”
Matt says: “I did feel like I had a bit more energy as the week went on, but it was hard getting in from work and then going to bed almost straight away and not having much of an evening with Helen. I also found I drank a lot more water as I had more time during the day, and I think that helped boost my energy too.”
Single mum Vicky certainly wasn’t used to the early nights
Usual bedtime: 2am
New bedtime: 9pm
SINGLE mum Vicky Winstanly, is a real night owl. Although the 35-year-old from Cockerham, Lancs, tries to go to bed at a reasonable hour she tends not to sleep before 2am. In the mornings, she is so tired that she usually goes straight back to bed after dropping son Nathan, ten, at school.
Vicky says: “I would normally be up on the computer or social media until the early hours. I watch Netflix and YouTube which can keep me awake longer than I suppose I need to.The first time I tried going to bed at 9pm was a disaster. I was tucked up by 8.30pm with a book in the hope it would help me nod off. I tried so hard for an hour but quit and ended up watching Netflix. Still, I fell asleep around 11 o’clock, three hours earlier than usual. But I was so tired in the morning that I hit the snooze button at 5am and slept for another 30 minutes.”
“I found going to bed at 9pm that evening much easier. In fact, it felt good to get up early without hitting the snooze button. I got lots of houseworkand washing done before my normal wake-up time and I felt really alert – it felt good to be doing that all week. Going to bed early was hard but I found getting up at 5am much easier, although I did often feel tired around lunchtime. I was more organised and productive in the week I got up at 5am but I don’t think I will stick to the routine. I really missed my me-time at the end of the day and having only 30 minutes after Nathan’s bedtime just wasn’t enough to watch some TV or catch up with friends.”
Our Sleep Easy Mindtrack aids natural sleep, greatly assisting any early start at 9pm. Ready for your own challenge?