Many describe themselves as night owls or early birds. Even such individuals have trouble figuring out the right to time to go to bed. At the Stanford School of Medicine, Professor Rafael Pelayo explains how to best organize sleep times and patterns as well as how younger children of the age of 8 sleep the best.
Tick Talk in the Brain
There is a section of the human brain near the hypothalamus (the part of the brain that manages involuntary functions) where many optic nerves cross each other. This region is called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). According to Professor Pelayo the SCN is what makes us fall asleep at night. The SCN is an internal clock that actually ticks by tracking time every 24 hours and 10 minutes. As humans, this SCN fulfills our need to manage time. Humans function best in a daily routine organized around their biological needs.
According to doctor Pelayo human beings do not have constant alertness levels. He claims that many of us are mistaken that sleep is like fuel and after we sleep at night we have maximum alertness in the morning. Doctor Pelayo says that as we have evolved our sleep patterns and times of being alert are more based on our survival instincts. Humans are most alert in the middle of the morning or right before going to sleep. Our alertness level goes down in the late afternoon. That is why we get drowsy after lunch and not after breakfast. One does feel a little drowsy a few hours before going to bed.
Through the need to be alert at night, Pelayo developed the 90 minute sleep cycle. Humans develop the instinct to wake up for 20 or 30 seconds after every 90 seconds to see if everyone is alright and return to sleep. This is the reason why mothers of newborns are able to care for their child and return to sleep afterwards. Doctor Pelayo claims that if a person is in bed and about to fall asleep and then remembers to lock the door, but falls asleep, he will get up to lock the door after 2 or 3 hours. That is primarily because security is a deep seated need and creating a safe environment is the best way to fall asleep.
Dr. Pelayo states that the saying says about how an hour of sleep before midnight is worth 2 hours after midnight, is not true at all. Going to bed too early is a mistake. Going to sleep when your body is still active is like swimming against the tide. You will never be able to fall asleep.
He believes that a person should organize their sleep patterns appropriately, getting atleast 8 hours of sleep every day and at the right times. By limiting sleep hours a person sleeps better, deeper and faster.
The right bed time according to Pelayo is 10 to 15 minutes prior to falling asleep. This means that if you want to wake up at 8:30 in the morning you should go to bed at around 12:45 am.
Eight year olds are the best sleepers as they go to bed according to certain timing worry free. The best way to sleep according to the doctor Pelayo is when a person believes their day is wrapped up, does not spend much time in bed and gets regular, routine sleep.
With increased knowledge and ability through further research we have been able to better understand how and when we should sleep to maximize our productivity. We are programmed by our bodies to sleep at certain times and be awake at certain times. However, we need adjust our lifestyle and behavior to sleep better.