Power Swaps: The best way to get a great night’s sleep

Turns out, you may be using your alarm clock in totally the wrong way. (Yes, really.)

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Healthy changes often come as a result of major dedication and discipline—like pre-dawn workouts and ordering kale salad instead of moules frites and red wine (darn you, Olivia Pope). But small, yet powerful changes can boost your wellness as much as big sacrifices can. In this new Well+Good series, we share some seriously smart yet simple swaps. Introducing Power Swaps.

If your alarm clock is your nemesis, that thing that drags you from a deep sleep so you can haul yourself to an early morning barre or boot camp session, we feel you. But according to sleep guru Michael Breus, PhD, it’s not the alarm’s fault—we’re all just using it wrong.

His top tip for a better night’s sleep? Swapping the dreaded morning alarm for an evening one.

“So many people look up and realize it’s one o’clock in the morning and they’re still up,” says Breus, a diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine and a fellow of The American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

Setting a consistent bedtime, on your iPhone or alarm of choice, prevents accidental Netflix marathons and helps the body settle into a rhythm. Chances are, you can’t control when you have to wake up—work and life tend to dictate that—but you can control when you go to bed. And that’s a good thing, given that sleep deprivation has been linked to everything from weight gain to decreased immunity.

“I haven’t used a [morning] alarm clock in 15 years, unless I have to wake up very early for a flight,” says Breus, who isn’t bragging. He says that after about 10 days or two weeks of bedtime consistency, most people’s bodies will adjust and they’ll start waking up—on their own—around the same time every day.

The key is figuring out your body’s ideal bedtime. Most people require around seven-and-a-half hours of sleep a night, Breus says, so work backwards from when you know you have to get up, then set the alarm for eight hours or so before, giving yourself time to ease into a healthy pre-bed routine—brush your teeth, wash your face, unplug your electronics.

“It’s really about consistency,” Breus says. “By maintaining the same bedtime and wake time—even on the weekends—the body functions better.” And you just might wake up without wanting to hurl your alarm against the wall…

For more information, visit www.thesleepdoctor.com

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