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Best Time to Sleep and Wake Up? This App Works Out Yours

The best time to sleep and wake up will depend on how much sleep you need, your circadian rhythm, and your lifestyle.
Published
2022-03-21
Updated
2023-08-02
20 MINS
Written by
Jeff Kahn, M.S., Rise Science Co-Founder
Reviewed by
Chester Wu, MD, Rise Science Medical Reviewer
Our Editorial Standards
We bring sleep research out of the lab and into your life. Every post begins with peer-reviewed studies — not third-party sources — to make sure we only share advice that can be defended to a room full of sleep scientists.
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Updated Regularly
We regularly update our articles to explain the latest research and shifts in scientific consensus in a simple and actionable way.
Woman waking up after a restful sleep

Best Time to Sleep and Wake Up 

  • The best time to sleep and wake up will depend on how much sleep you need, your circadian rhythm (body clock), and your lifestyle. 
  • And ideally, you’d keep a consistent sleep schedule throughout the week, even on weekends, for the best energy and health.
  • The RISE app can work out how much sleep you need and predict your circadian rhythm each day, so you can see when your body naturally wants to sleep and wake up.

Getting enough sleep is important, but the timing of this sleep also matters. Going to sleep and waking up at the right times for you can make a huge difference to your energy levels, health, and productivity. 

Below, we’ll explain the best time to sleep and wake up and how you can use the RISE app to find out the best sleep schedule for you. 

A Sleep Doctor's Advice

“There is no one best time to sleep and wake up. The best time will look different for everyone, and it will probably change for you throughout your life. Make sure your sleep schedule allows you to get enough sleep each night and is one you can stick to consistently.”

Rise Science Sleep Advisor and Medical Reviewer Dr. Chester Wu

What is the Best Time to Go to Sleep?

The best time to go to sleep will depend on how much sleep you need, your circadian rhythm, and your lifestyle. 

Here’s what we mean.

Your Sleep Need

Your sleep need is the amount of sleep you need each night. It’s a genetically determined trait you have no control over — just like height and eye color — and it’s different for each person. 

If you need to get up at a certain time each morning (as most of us do), you want to make sure the time you’re going to sleep will allow you to get enough sleep overall. 

RISE uses a year’s worth of your phone use behavior and proprietary sleep-science-based models to calculate your sleep need down to the minute. 

RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can view their sleep need here

Your Circadian Rhythm 

Your circadian rhythm is the roughly 24-hour internal clock that plays a role in controlling your sleep-wake cycle. 

The timing of your circadian rhythm can change depending on your chronotype (whether you’re an early bird or night owl) and zeitgebers (German for time-givers), which are external cues that help time your circadian rhythm to the outside world. Zeitgebers include light, food, and exercise.

There’s also a time of night you’ll have the easiest time falling asleep. In RISE, we call this time your Melatonin Window. It’s the roughly one hour window when your body’s rate of melatonin production is at its highest. Melatonin is your sleep hormone, so heading to bed in your Melatonin Window can help you fall and stay asleep more easily.

The RISE app uses your phone use behavior, sleep times, and inferred light exposure to predict your circadian rhythm each day. You’ll then see when your body naturally wants to go to sleep and wake up. And ideally, you’d sync up with those times. 

Expert tip: If these times don’t match your lifestyle, you can reset your circadian rhythm to shift them earlier or later. Even night owls can learn to be morning people.

RISE app screenshot showing your energy peak and dip times
The RISE app can predict your circadian rhythm.

RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can see their circadian rhythm on the Energy screen here

Your Lifestyle

While it’s great to go to sleep when your body naturally wants you to, we know that’s not always possible. You may work late, have a changing work schedule, or have to be up early with kids (so, therefore, need to sleep early to meet your sleep need). 

Finding the Best Time to Sleep 

Once you know your sleep need, circadian rhythm, and your work and personal commitments, you can work out the best time to sleep for you. 

For example, if you need to be up at 7 a.m. for work, and need eight hours of sleep a night, you’d need to be asleep at 11 p.m. Add on 30 minutes to an hour to give yourself enough time to fall asleep and wake up in the middle of the night (which is normal by the way), and still get enough sleep. 

So, in this case, the best bedtime for you might be 10 p.m. 

If you don’t have that set wake-up time to think about, you could instead look at your Melatonin Window and head to bed at this time. And if you shift your sleep-wake times, your Melatonin Window will shift with these.

It sounds complicated, but RISE works as a sleep calculator, working out how much sleep you need and predicting your circadian rhythm to show you the best times to get this sleep. 

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A Word About Sleep Debt 

Sleep debt is the amount of sleep you owe your body. If you haven’t been getting enough sleep recently, you’ll have built up sleep debt. The good news is you can pay back sleep debt by getting more sleep than you usually need. 

You can do this by:

  • Taking naps
  • Heading to bed a little earlier than usual 
  • Sleeping in an hour or so later
  • Improving your sleep hygiene (the daily habits that help you fall asleep faster and wake up less often, so you’ll spend more time sleeping in bed. More on these soon.)

RISE can work out how much sleep debt you have. We recommend you keep this below five hours to feel your best. And if you’ve got more than five hours of sleep debt, you can adjust the times you go to sleep and wake up to try getting a little more shut-eye. 

While catching up on sleep is important, you don’t want to throw your sleep pattern off by sleeping in for three hours on a Sunday. Try chipping away at sleep debt slowly or using daytime naps to get more sleep. 

We’ve covered more on how to find out how much sleep debt you have here. 

Expert tip: RISE can give you a science-backed bedtime. The app takes into account your sleep need and sleep debt to give you a bedtime that’ll help you get enough sleep. If you need to pay back sleep debt, this bedtime will slowly shift earlier to help you catch up on sleep.

RISE app screenshot showing your best bedtime
The RISE app can tell you the best bedtime to pay back sleep debt.

 

What is the Best Time to Wake Up?

The best time to wake up will depend on how much sleep you need, your circadian rhythm, and your lifestyle. You want to wake up at a time that allows you to get enough sleep, at a time your body wants to wake up naturally, and on a schedule that fits your work or personal life. 

Check RISE for your “Wake Zone,” which is what we call the time your body naturally wants to wake up. If possible, aim to wake up during this time.  

Here’s what else you should think about. 

Sleep Inertia 

Sleep inertia is the groggy feeling you get right after waking up. You might feel sleepy, disorientated, and mentally slow during this time, but it should clear up in an hour or two. 

If possible, you want to wake up and have enough time to shake off sleep inertia before you need to be “on” for the day. We recommend giving yourself 60 to 90 minutes to fully wake up. 

So if you start work at 9 a.m., you’d want to wake up between 7:30 a.m. and 8 a.m.

In RISE, we call the time you’ll feel sleep inertia your grogginess zone and we’ll predict when this grogginess is expected to end, so you can plan your day. 

Consistency 

Consistency is also important when it comes to sleep timings. Having a consistent sleep schedule helps to keep your circadian rhythm in check, which is good news for your health and energy levels. 

One study found people with a regular sleep pattern felt more alert than those without a regular sleep pattern, even though both groups got enough sleep. 

Plus, it can help you get enough sleep overall. We found RISE users with consistent sleep-wake times have less sleep debt than those with inconsistent sleep-wake times. 

So the best time to wake up for you is one you can wake up at each day consistently. 

For example, let’s say you can wake up at 8 a.m. every day except Monday and Tuesday when you need to be up at 7 a.m. to go into the office. In this case, consider waking up at 7 a.m. each day to keep a regular sleep pattern throughout the week, including the weekend. 

Heads-up: If you’ve got sleep debt to pay down, taking naps is a great way to get more sleep without throwing off your consistent sleep pattern. The best time to sleep and wake up when it comes to naps is during your natural afternoon dip in energy. 

You’ll probably feel sleepy during this time anyway, and it’s far enough away from bedtime that a nap at this time shouldn’t stop you falling asleep at night. 

Keep naps to 10 to 25 minutes to reduce how groggy you feel when you wake up, or 90 minutes if you’ve got a lot of sleep to catch up on. 

Sleep Cycles 

When thinking about when to wake up, we argue you don’t need to worry about sleep cycles. Sleep cycles are the roughly 70-to-120-minute cycles we move through during sleep. Each cycle is made up of light sleep, deep sleep, and REM stages of sleep.

There’s some common advice out there saying you should wake up at the end of a sleep cycle to avoid grogginess. But sleep isn’t as clear-cut as we think. 

Sleep cycles change from person to person and they can even change shape throughout the night. You also can’t control how your body moves through these sleep cycles each night. 

Instead of worrying about sleep cycles, focus on meeting your sleep need and keeping a regular sleep schedule.

Expert tip: Use RISE’s alarm clock — it’s the only alarm clock that helps to keep your sleep debt low. When you set your alarm, RISE will tell you whether your chosen wake-up time will contribute to sleep debt or not. If it does, try setting a later alarm to get a bit more sleep, if that’s possible. If you need to be up at that time, try going to bed earlier the next night. 

RISE app screenshot showing best time to wake up
The RISE app can tell you the best time to wake up.

We’ve covered more on the best time to wake up here, including what to do if you need to move your wake time earlier. 

How Much Sleep Do I Need?

Everyone needs a different amount of sleep. It’s recommended adults get seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Babies, children, and teenagers need more sleep. 

But the amount of sleep you need is highly individual and it can even change from night to night. 

For example, you may need more sleep when:

There may also be times in life when getting enough sleep is harder, so you need to spend longer in bed to meet your sleep need. This can include when you have a sleep disorder or health issue, or when you’re on your period, pregnant, or going through menopause

And you may need more sleep than you think. When we looked at the sleep needs of 1.95 million RISE users aged 24 and older, the median sleep need was eight hours. But 48% of users need eight hours or more sleep a night. A lucky few only need five hours, but some need a whopping 11 hours 30 minutes. 

You can use the RISE app to find out how much sleep you need exactly.

You can use the RISE app to find out how much sleep you need exactly. 
The RISE app can work out how much sleep you need.

RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can view their sleep need here

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What Are Sleep Requirements by Age?

The amount of sleep you need changes across your lifespan. Babies, children, and teenagers tend to need more sleep than adults. 

According to the National Sleep Foundation, the recommended amount of sleep by age is: 

  • Newborns: 14 to 17 hours 
  • Infants: 12 to 15 hours 
  • Toddlers: 11 to 14 hours 
  • Preschoolers: 10 to 13 hours 
  • School-aged children: 9 to 11 hours 
  • Teenagers: 8 to 10 hours 
  • Young adults and adults: 7 to 9 hours 
  • Older adults: 7 to 8 hours 

Heads-up: These sleep guidelines are a great starting point, but they can be misleading.

They’re based on self-reported data (which can be inaccurate) and on data showing how much sleep people get, not what they actually need. This can lead to misleading findings. For example, older adults may not actually need less sleep than younger adults, they may just get less sleep as they age.

We’ve covered more on how much sleep you need here. 

What’s the Healthiest Time to Sleep and Wake Up?

The healthiest time to sleep and wake up are the times that work best for you. You want to make sure you’re getting enough sleep overall and staying in sync with your circadian rhythm. This means waking up and sleeping when your body naturally wants you to and sticking to these times throughout the week.

However, there is some research suggesting sleeping and waking up earlier could be healthier for you. 

One of our sleep advisors is Jamie Zeitzer, co-director of the Center for Sleep and Circadian Sciences at Stanford University. He worked on a 2023 study that found going to sleep early — even if you’re a night owl — lowers your odds of mental and physical health disorders. 

More research needs to be done to find out why earlier sleep times may have this effect. But it could be because sleeping earlier is linked to healthier lifestyle choices and getting more natural light, which helps you stay in sync with your circadian rhythm. 

A 2019 study had similar findings. It found that when night owls shifted their circadian rhythms about two hours earlier, without sacrificing sleep, they had better mental and physical performance, stress levels, and self-reported depression. 

And there is research showing sleeping and waking up later is linked to anxiety, depression, and weight gain. But as we said, more research needs to be done. Those who sleep later may also not get enough sleep overall, and it may be sleep debt that’s behind the adverse health effects. 

What Time Does the Average Person Go to Sleep and Wake Up?

We looked at 2023 RISE data to see what time our users go to sleep and wake up. 

On average, our users’ sleep-wake times are: 

  • 11:46 p.m. to 8:16 a.m. on weekdays 
  • 11:52 p.m. to 8:30 a.m. on weekends 

Remember, don’t compare your sleep and wake times to anyone else. We all need a different amount of sleep and have different times when our bodies would prefer to sleep.  

What Are the Effects of Sleep Deprivation?

The effects of sleep deprivation range from low energy and poor focus to obesity and depression.

Going to sleep and waking up at the right times for you can help you get enough sleep to reduce your odds of this laundry list of health issues. It can also help you stay in sync with your circadian rhythm, which is also good news for your energy, mental performance, health, and well-being.

Here’s a more in-depth look at what not getting enough sleep can lead to.  

In the short term: 

In the long term: 

  • Diabetes 
  • Weight gain and obesity 
  • Cardiovascular disease 
  • High blood pressure
  • Mental health issues like anxiety and depression 
  • Having multiple serious health conditions (a 2022 study found sleeping for five hours or less a night at ages 50, 60, and 70 was associated with a high risk of having two or more chronic diseases, like cancer and heart disease)
  • Early death 

How to Fall Asleep on Time?

To fall asleep on time, try improving your sleep hygiene. These are the daily habits you can do to help you feel tired at bedtime and get a night of natural healthy sleep.  

So once you’ve found the best time to sleep, you can start actually falling asleep at this time. 

Good sleep hygiene includes: 

  • Getting out in sunlight as soon as possible after waking up 
  • Avoiding light close to bedtime
  • Avoiding caffeine, large meals, high-intensity exercise, and alcohol close to bedtime
  • Keeping your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet for sleep
  • Avoiding excitative or stressful content before bed 
  • Avoiding revenge bedtime procrastination (when you stay up late to get more me-time) by having a relaxing bedtime routine with calming me-time activities  
  • Making sure your pillow, mattress, pajamas, and sleep position are as comfortable as possible

RISE can walk you through 20+ good sleep habits each day to help you fall asleep on time. 

RISE app screenshot showing sleep hygiene habits
The RISE app can remind you when to do 20+ sleep hygiene habits.

Expert tip: Set a bedtime alarm. It’s easy to get sucked into Netflix or scrolling on social media in the evenings and blow past bedtime. If this happens to you, set a bedtime alarm to remind you to turn off the screens and start getting ready for bed. 

For bonus points, set this alarm an hour or so before you want to go to bed and spend this time doing a relaxing bedtime routine to help you unwind. 

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When to Talk to a Doctor About Sleep Problems?

You should talk to a doctor about sleep problems when you regularly can’t get enough sleep or if you can’t shift your sleep schedule and it’s affecting your quality of life. 

If you’ve tried improving your sleep hygiene and still can’t get enough sleep, or find yourself struggling to fall and stay asleep, it might be worth getting medical advice. 

Your healthcare provider or a sleep expert can run tests for an underlying medical condition or sleep disorder, like insomnia, sleep apnea, or delayed sleep phase disorder, that could be to blame. 

The Best Time to Sleep and Wake Up 

The best time to sleep and wake up will be different for everyone, and it’ll change across your life, too. 

To sum up, the ideal times to sleep and wake up take into account: 

  • Your sleep need
  • Your circadian rhythm 
  • Your lifestyle
  • Whether you need to sleep a little longer to pay back sleep debt  
  • Sleep inertia 
  • Consistency 

The RISE app can take the guesswork out of finding the best sleep times for you. 

RISE can work out how much sleep you need, how much sleep debt you have, and predict your circadian rhythm each day, so you can see when your body naturally wants to go to sleep and wake up.

RISE can also walk you through 20+ sleep hygiene habits to help you get a good night’s sleep at the right time for you, so you can feel your best the next day.

And with 80% of RISE users feeling more energy within five days, you could be having better days this time next week.

FAQs

What is the best time to sleep and wake up?

The best time to sleep and wake up will depend on how much sleep you need, whether you’re an early bird or night owl, and your lifestyle. For example, if you need to wake up at 7 a.m. for work, and you need eight hours of sleep, the best time to sleep will be 11 p.m. Try going to bed around 10 p.m. to give yourself enough time to fall asleep, wake up in the night, and still get enough sleep.

What is scientifically the best time to sleep and wake up?

There is no one scientifically best time to sleep and wake up. The best time will depend on how much sleep you need, whether you’re an early bird or night owl, and when you need to be awake each morning. For example, if you need to wake up at 7 a.m. for work and you need eight hours of sleep, the best time to sleep will be 11 p.m. Try going to bed around 10 p.m. to give yourself enough time to fall asleep, wake up in the night, and still get enough sleep.

What is the healthiest time to sleep and wake up?

There is no one healthiest time to sleep and wake up. The healthiest time for you will depend on how much sleep you need and whether you’re an early bird or night owl. However, there is some research suggesting earlier sleep-wake times are healthier for you, but more research needs to be done.

Best time to sleep and wake up for adults?

The best time to sleep and wake up for adults will be different for each person. It depends on how much sleep you need, whether you’re an early bird or night owl, and your lifestyle. For example, if you need to wake up at 7 a.m. for work and you need eight hours of sleep, the best time to sleep will be 11 p.m. Try going to bed around 10 p.m. to give yourself enough time to fall asleep, wake up in the night, and still get enough sleep.

Best time to sleep and wake up for weight loss?

There is no one best time to sleep and wake up for weight loss. The best time will depend on how much sleep you need and whether you’re an early bird or night owl. For weight loss, make sure you’re getting enough sleep at night and staying in sync with your circadian rhythm (or body clock) with a regular sleep schedule.

Best time to sleep and wake up calculator

The RISE app is a sleep and wake-up calculator that works out how much sleep you need and predicts the timing of your circadian rhythm (or body clock), so you can see when your body naturally wants to sleep and wake up. The RISE alarm can work out the best time to wake up based on whether you have any sleep debt. And if you need to be up at a certain time, RISE can work out the best time to go to sleep.

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Rise is the only app that unlocks the real-world benefits of better sleep.

Instead of just promising a better night, we use 100 years of sleep science to help you pay down sleep debt and take advantage of your circadian rhythm to be your best.

Over the past decade, we've helped professional athletes, startups, and Fortune 500s improve their sleep to measurably win more in the real-world scenarios that matter most.

Rise Science is backed by True Ventures, Freestyle Capital, and High Alpha; investors behind category winners Fitbit, Peloton, and Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

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