It’s a commitment you make every time your alarm goes off: “Don’t worry, body. Tonight, I promise to get eight hours of sleep.” But according to Matthew Walker, director of UC Berkeley’s Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab and author of Why We Sleep, unless you plot out your sleep opportunity, you’ll never log the hours of shut-eye you actually need.
Yes, your “sleep opportunity.” It’s a thing. According to Walker, the secret to a good night’s sleep is calculating the number of hours of sleep, plus the number of hours you know you’ll need to fall asleep. (That’s your sleep opportunity.)
For example, if you know you need eight hours in order to be productive the next day, but you also need 30 minutes to read in bed and 30 minutes to fall asleep and you always wake up 15 minutes before your alarm, you actually need to get in bed nine hours and 15 minutes before you get up. (This means a 10:15 p.m. bedtime vs. 11:30 p.m.)
It makes sense: While we all wish that we could pass out the moment our head hits the pillow, bedtime rarely goes down like that. By figuring out your sleep opportunity, you account for the time you spend adjusting your pillows, ruminating on your day or just sitting up for a sip of water.
Do the math and get ready to have your most restful sleep in months.