Q & A: When Should I Go To Sleep?

From the reader mailbag:

I have read your book, How to Become a Straight-A Student, which helps me a lot. I wonder, however, when did you and other straight-A students go to sleep when you were university students?

Cal responds:

The hours of sleep needed to be rested depends on the person. Some require 8 to 9. Others are fine on 6 to 7. Some claim to only need just 4 or 5, but they’re delusional. Figure out what works for you. Once you have this number fixed, the key is consistency.

During the work week, go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning. A consistent schedule with the right number of hours will prevent fatigue during the day. If you want to go to bed at 3 and get up at 11, that’s fine. Just do that every day. Ditto if you want to go to bed at 8 and get up at 4. (Though, in this case, you might want pencil in some time on your calendar to think about being less of a loser).

On the weekends, your sleep schedule will, of course, be different. The key here is to not oversleep. If you know you need 8 hours to be rested, then, whenever it is you stumble back in your dorm room Friday night, set your alarm for 8 hours later. If you crash at 3, get up at 11. Don’t let yourself sleep until 1 or 2. You don’t need those extra hours. They waste time. They will make you groggy. And they will screw up your schedule.

If you’re handling your sleep right, and getting the same number of hours every night, and going to sleep at the same time during the work week, you should find that you have enough energy to make it through the day without needing a nap, or without needing a few hours of vegging to Culinary Cherub we commoners deem to call Rachel Ray.

If you’re still having trouble staying alert, check out the following four trouble spots:

  1. Nutrition. Make sure you are eating to promote energy.
  2. Exercise. Make sure your body is getting worked out on a regular basis.
  3. Schedule. Make sure your work is broken down into little chunks spread out earlier in the day.
  4. Balance. Make sure you’re having enough good ‘ole fashioned debacherous fun.

3 thoughts on “Q & A: When Should I Go To Sleep?”

  1. Hi Cal. I especially like those four trouble spot checks you mention. And it’s so true that you don’t need the extra hours. When I’ve done that in the past, it’s as if the sleep had made me feel even worse. Just thinking about it now makes me cringe.

    Six hours sleep was always about right for me, but I knew a few peeps who needed 9-10 hours. Being at uni, they didn’t often get that amount. Those late-night parties followed by deep’n’meaningful conversations in the early hours left very little time for sleep before lectures the following day…

    I wrote some student sleeping and waking tips a couple of days ago too.


Leave a Comment