RISE Sleep Tracker
One of Apple's Best Apps of 2024
★★★★★
(20,627)
TRY FREE

What Is a Good Sleep Schedule? We Asked a Sleep Doctor

A good sleep schedule fits your sleep need, circadian rhythm, lifestyle, and is consistent. There’s no set time, the best schedule looks different for everyone.
Published
2022-08-08
Updated
2024-01-26
12 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.
Learn more
Updated Regularly
We regularly update our articles to explain the latest research and shifts in scientific consensus in a simple and actionable way.
Man lying in bed reading to establish a good sleep schedule

What Is a Good Sleep Schedule?

  • A good sleep schedule is one that allows you to get enough sleep, fits your circadian rhythm (your body’s internal clock) and lifestyle, and is consistent. 
  • There’s no one best sleep schedule — it’s different for everyone. 
  • The RISE app can tell you how much sleep you need and predict the timing of your circadian rhythm, so you know when your body naturally wants to sleep and wake up.

A solid sleep schedule is vital for feeling and performing your best. But there isn’t a one-size-fits-all schedule that works for everyone. The best sleep schedule for you depends on a few factors. 

Below, we’ll dive into what a healthy sleep schedule looks like, how to adjust your current sleep schedule, and how to stick to a good schedule once you’re on it. Plus, we cover how RISE can give you a science-backed sleep and wake time based on your own biology. 

Advice From a Sleep Doctor

Advice From a Sleep Doctor

A healthy sleep schedule looks different for everyone, but it includes getting enough sleep, sleeping at consistent times, and sleeping in line with your body clock,” says Rise Science sleep advisor and medical reviewer, Dr. Chester Wu, who is double board certified in psychiatry and sleep medicine.

What Is a Good Sleep Schedule? 

A good sleep schedule is one that gives you enough time in bed to get enough sleep for you, matches your circadian rhythm and lifestyle, and is consistent by going to sleep and waking up at the same times each day. 

With a good sleep schedule, you’ll be more likely to get enough sleep and stay in sync with your circadian rhythm. This will maximize your energy, focus, mood, and health, and ensure you get all the light, deep sleep, and REM sleep you need. 

Here’s what we mean: 

Enough Time to Get Enough Sleep 

Your sleep schedule needs to give you enough time in bed to get enough sleep. 

The first thing you need to know is your sleep need — this is how much sleep you genetically need.

It varies from person to person. When we looked at the sleep needs of 1.95 million RISE users aged 24 and up, we found it ranged from five hours to 11 hours 30 minutes. 

The RISE app can tell you how much sleep you need
RISE users’ sleep needs.

RISE uses a year’s worth of your phone use behavior and proprietary sleep-science-based models to work out your sleep need and give you a number to aim for each night. 

But you shouldn’t just spend this amount of time in bed. You also need to think about sleep efficiency — the measure of how much time you spend asleep in bed, taking into account the time it takes to fall asleep and the time you’re awake during the night. 

Add 30 minutes to an hour onto your sleep need to find out how long you should be in bed. How long you add depends on how quickly you fall asleep, and how long you’re awake for during the night. 

Don’t worry if you don’t fall asleep immediately, falling asleep within 10 minutes may actually be a sign of sleep deprivation. It’s normal to take 10 to 20 minutes to fall asleep. Taking longer than 20 minutes may be a sign of stress, a medical condition, or poor sleep hygiene (more on how to improve this to improve your sleep efficiency soon). And repeatedly taking longer than 30 minutes to fall asleep could be a sign of a sleep disorder like insomnia. 

For example, if you need eight hours of sleep, and you fall asleep relatively quickly and sleep pretty soundly through the night, you might crawl into bed 8 hours 30 minutes before you need to wake up. 

Expert tip: Having a consistent sleep schedule that matches your circadian rhythm can help you fall asleep faster and wake up less often, reducing how much extra time you need to spend in bed.  

You can learn more about how much sleep you need here. 

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

{{ cta }}

Matches Your Circadian Rhythm 

Your circadian rhythm is your biological clock that helps dictate your sleep-wake cycle. A good sleep schedule is one that matches your circadian rhythm, so you sleep when your body naturally wants to sleep. 

Sleeping when your body wants to will make falling asleep easier and it’ll lower your odds of physical and mental health conditions like diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and depression. 

It’ll also help you get more unbroken sleep, which can boost your mood, energy, and well-being. Research from 2023 found the satisfaction with your sleep significantly predicts your sense of well-being the next day — and getting unbroken sleep certainly feels more satisfying than restless sleep.

Check RISE for a prediction of your circadian rhythm each day to see when your body wants to sleep. 

RISE app screenshot showing your energy peak and dips
The RISE app shows you when your body wants to sleep and wake up.

There are two factors to think about when it comes to your circadian rhythm. 

Chronotype 

The timing of your circadian rhythm depends in part on your chronotype. This is your natural tendency to wake up and go to sleep earlier or later — or, in other words, whether you’re an early bird, night owl, or somewhere in between. 

Research suggests about 40% of us are either early birds or night owls, while 60% of us sit somewhere in between the two extremes.

As long as you can get enough sleep, a healthy sleep schedule is usually one that matches your chronotype. So early birds will have an earlier schedule than night owls, and it may even be okay to go to sleep after midnight for some!

But there is research suggesting an earlier sleep schedule may be better for you regardless of your chronotype. 

Rise Science sleep advisor Jamie Zeitzer, co-director of the Center for Sleep and Circadian Sciences at Stanford University, worked on a 2023 study that found going to sleep early decreases your odds of mental and physical health conditions. This was true even for night owls.  

You can learn more about chronotypes here, including how to find yours.  

Melatonin Window 

Your circadian rhythm controls when your body produces certain hormones, including the sleep hormone melatonin

There’s a roughly one-hour window when your body’s rate of melatonin production is at its highest. We call this your Melatonin Window. Going to sleep during your Melatonin Window can help you fall and stay asleep. 

Your Melatonin Window may be earlier if you’re an early bird and later if you’re a night owl. And if you currently have an irregular sleep schedule, the timing can change from night to night. 

Check RISE for a prediction of when your Melatonin Window will be each night. If it fits your lifestyle (you can sleep in late enough to get enough sleep), this may be the ideal time to go to sleep for you.

RISE app screenshot showing your melatonin window
The RISE app shows you your ideal bedtime.

Matches Your Lifestyle 

If you can sleep when your body naturally wants to, that’s great. But most of us have commitments dictating our sleep times. This is usually in the morning — like getting the kids to school or starting work at a set time. 

There’s also sleep inertia to think about. This is the groggy feeling you get when you wake up. You can calculate your perfect sleep schedule by looking at the time you need to wake up in the mornings and giving yourself some time to shake off morning grogginess. 

We recommend giving yourself 60 to 90 minutes to fully wake up before you need to be “on” for the day. 

For example, if you start work at 9 a.m., you might want to wake up at 7:30 a.m. — not 8:55 a.m. 

Luckily, you can reset your circadian rhythm if your natural sleep-wake times don’t match your lifestyle — i.e. your body wants to sleep in past your work start time.

Consistency 

A healthy sleep schedule is a consistent one. You want to wake up and go to sleep at roughly the same times each day, even on weekends. 

Keeping a regular sleep schedule helps you stay in sync with your circadian rhythm, which helps you feel sleepy at bedtime, making it easier to get enough sleep and stick to your schedule. 

We found RISE users with consistent sleep-wake times have less sleep debt (the sleep you’ve missed out on recently) than those with inconsistent sleep-wake times. The more sleep debt you have, the more tired you’ll feel.

There’s also more good news for your energy levels. Research shows a consistent sleep routine can help you feel more alert, and the natural fluctuations in energy you feel throughout the day will be more predictable. 

And a consistent schedule is better for your health and wellness. For example, a 2023 study found irregular sleep patterns are linked to harmful gut bacteria — even a change of 90 minutes can cause this. And further 2023 research suggests sleep regularity may be a bigger predictor of mortality than sleep duration. 

If you’ve got an irregular sleep schedule right now, you’re not alone — 87% of adults sleep at least two hours later on weekends. 

Ideally, you’d stay within an hour or so of your sleep times. For example, if you need to catch up on sleep with a lay-in at the weekend, keep it to an hour or so, instead of throwing away your sleep schedule by sleeping in until noon. 

We’ve covered more on why it matters what time you sleep here, even if you get enough sleep overall. 

In summary, a good sleep schedule is one that: 

  • Gives you enough time to meet your sleep need
  • Matches your circadian rhythm 
  • Matches your lifestyle
  • Is consistent

Remember to think about your chronotype, sleep inertia, and sleep efficiency.

For example: 

  • If you start work at 9 a.m., you might want to wake up at 7:30 a.m. to give yourself enough time to shake off sleep inertia. 
  • If you need eight hours of sleep, you’d count back from 7:30 a.m. to get to 11:30 p.m. 
  • You’d then add at least 30 minutes to factor in sleep efficiency. This means your goal bedtime would be 11 p.m. 

If you have more flexibility with your schedule, you might shift these times earlier or later to match your chronotype, or check RISE to see when your body naturally wants to sleep and wake up.

But remember, you can reset your circadian rhythm. Even night owls can become morning people!

We’ve covered more on the best time to sleep and wake up here.

Heads-up: If you can’t keep a good sleep schedule, don’t panic. Pay extra attention to your sleep debt. This is the amount of sleep you owe your body. Keep your sleep debt as low as possible for the best energy, health, and performance. 

If you build up sleep debt with an irregular sleep schedule — or because work, kids, or illnesses keep you up — you can catch up on sleep through naps, early nights, and short lay-ins.

Improve your sleep hygiene (more on that soon) to ensure the sleep you can get is the best it can be.

Speak to a healthcare provider if a sleep disorder like insomnia or sleep apnea is causing sleep problems and messing up your sleep schedule. 

We’ve covered more on sleep debt and how to pay it back here.

RISE keeps track of how much sleep debt you have. 

RISE app screenshot showing how much sleep debt you have
The RISE app works out your sleep debt.

 

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

{{ cta-mini }}

How to Adjust Your Sleep Schedule?  

Adjust your sleep schedule by gradually shifting your sleep, meal, and exercise times; getting light in the morning and avoiding it in the evening; and using melatonin supplements when needed. 

We’ve covered how to reset your sleep schedule in more detail here, but the main steps are:

  • Shift your sleep and wake-up times by 15 to 30 minutes every few days. 
  • Shift meal and exercise times by the same amount and in the same direction as your sleep. 
  • Get natural light exposure in the morning and avoid light before bed. RISE can tell you when to get and avoid light, and guide you through 20+ sleep habits that’ll promote sleepiness at your new bedtime. 
  • Use melatonin supplements in the short term, if needed, to shift your circadian rhythm onto a new sleep schedule. Learn how many mg of melatonin to take here.

We’ve covered how long it takes to adjust your sleep schedule here.

{{ video }}

How to Stick to a Good Sleep Schedule? 

Stick to a good sleep schedule by maintaining good sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene is the name for the daily behaviors you can do that help you fall and stay asleep. 

As long as you don’t have a medical condition or sleep disorder, the better your sleep hygiene is, the better your sleep efficiency will be. That means you won’t need to spend much extra time in bed to get the sleep you need. 

Here’s what to do: 

  • Get out in natural light: Aim for at least 10 minutes of light as soon as possible after you wake up in the morning. Get 15 to 20 minutes if it’s overcast or you’re getting light through a window.  
  • Get light throughout the day: The more light you get during the day, the less sensitive you’ll be to it in the evening, when it can keep you up. 
  • Avoid bright light before bed: About 90 minutes before bed, dim the lights and put on blue-light blocking glasses or avoid electronic devices. 
  • Avoid sleep disruptors: Caffeine, alcohol, large meals, and vigorous physical activity too close to bedtime can keep you up past your new sleep time or wake you up in the night. 
  • Manage stress: Keep stress in check for an easier time falling asleep quickly and on schedule. Try breathing exercises, journaling, or meditating. If you spend time on screens before bed, make sure you’re consuming relaxing content. We’ve covered what to do if you’re too stressed to sleep here. 
  • Watch out for revenge bedtime procrastination: This is when you voluntarily delay your bedtime, perhaps by watching TV or scrolling on social media, to get more “me time.” Try setting a bedtime alarm, creating a relaxing bedtime routine you enjoy, and, if you’re watching TV before bed, choose an episodic show (when a story is told within one episode) to avoid binge watching your way past your new bedtime.
  • Perfect your sleep environment: Make sure your bedroom is dark, cool, and quiet.

RISE can tell you the best time to do 20+ healthy sleep habits based on your circadian rhythm. 

RISE app screenshot showing sleep hygiene habit reminders
The RISE app tells you when to do 20+ sleep hygiene habits.

RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can set up their 20+ in-app habit notifications here

Create and Keep a Healthy Sleep Schedule 

A healthy sleep schedule is one that gives you enough time to meet your sleep need, matches your circadian rhythm and lifestyle, and is consistent. 

RISE helps you find and keep the best sleep schedule for you. The app works out your sleep need and predicts your circadian rhythm each day. RISE also walks you through 20+ sleep hygiene habits to make getting a good night’s sleep on schedule easier. 

Users say RISE helps them take control of their sleep schedules for better energy. 

“This app has really helped me get my sleep schedule back on track. Being able to visualize sleep debt and your optimal bedtimes actually really motivates you to prioritize sleep. After the first two days of using this app, I already felt a significant boost in my energy!” Read the review.

This user isn’t alone — 80% of RISE users get better sleep within five days. 

FAQs

Sleep better. Sell more.

Learn more about Rise for sales teams.

Thanks! We received your information. You'll hear from us shortly.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
About Rise
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.

Circadian Rhythm

View all
Try 7 days free

The power behind your next best day

RISE makes it easy to improve your sleep and daily energy to reach your potential

RISE app iconApp store icon