Going to bed at 9 p.m. every night could improve your health. Here’s how to get started

It may be in style to party at 5 p.m. and head to bed by 9 p.m.—according to Gen Z, anyway. You can’t make it through a TikTok scroll without seeing someone’s early bedtime routine video encouraging a healthy wind-down, like shutting off screens, listening to calming music, or meditating. Skipping the late-night bar crawl might be paying off, though. Using 2022 data from the American Time Survey (ATS), RentCafe found those in their 20s are getting the most sleep.

According to over two million smart-bed customers from Sleep Number, more people are reaping the benefits of an earlier night’s sleep. The average bedtime for younger adults crept down to 10:06 p.m. this January compared to 10:18 p.m. a year prior. 

Standard guidelines recommend adults get between seven and nine hours of sleep each night, and many people are trying to hit the hay earlier in order to do so. Are they onto something?

The benefits of going to bed early

The most obvious benefit of going to bed early is that you likely will get more sleep. When you have an early work day, getting to bed by 9 or 10 p.m. can ensure you reach the ideal eight hours of sleep each night. Getting enough sleep each night profoundly affects physical and emotional health. It can help people age well, feel more energized, and prevent chronic conditions. 

You may also get better quality sleep by hitting the hay earlier. The body adjusts to a natural sleep cycle based on the sun and our internal body clock. Due to this, some experts argue that the deepest sleep happens between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. 

Going to bed early also may allow you to enjoy the benefits of being an early bird. Research suggests waking up early has more pros than cons, such as being able to take advantage of early morning sunlight, enjoy a slower, calmer start to the day. Studies also show that exercising in the morning—which may require you to wake up earlier—can boost your energy for the day and may reduce the risk of heart disease more profoundly than working out later. Night owls, on the other hand, may be prone to unhealthy habits and have a higher risk of diabetes. 

Here’s how to make an early bedtime work for you

Dr. Raj Dasgupta, internal medicine doctor, sleep scientist, and chief medical advisor for Sleep Advisor, says it’s most critical to get the proper quantity—and quality—of sleep to see health benefits. Quality is determined by how well you sleep throughout the night to ensure you get deep sleep, which can be improved by going to bed and waking up at the same time, limiting heavy meals and alcohol before bed, and having a wind-down routine.

“Sleep is very individualized,” says Dasgupta, adding many people who consider themselves night owls may have a later-adjusted schedule that works more adequately for them. 

But for those who want to break the habit of late nights, it’s helpful to start slow, Dasgupta says. Begin by pushing back your bedtime by 15-minute intervals until you hit your goal. Practice a 30- to 60-minute wind-down routine where you limit screen time, get in the dark, and do something calming before closing your eyes. 

“It’s still important to have a good sleep schedule, be consistent, and have good sleep hygiene,” Dasgutpa says. “I want to encourage night owls that after all the effort you put into moving their bedtime, it only takes one time to get back off track, so it’s really important to be as consistent as possible.” 

It may take some time to adjust to a new schedule, so don’t expect things to feel normal right away, Samantha Snowden, a mindfulness teacher at Headspace, the popular meditation app, previously told Fortune. “You’re going to kind of need to connect back to your motivation,” Snowden says. “What is driving this for you? And what do you imagine to be the benefits that you’re really personally going to enjoy and get from this?”

It can help to remind yourself of what you want to gain with an earlier bedtime. Is it to feel more rested, productive, or energized? 

Whatever it is, you may find yourself joining the cohorts of those moving their dinner reservations from 8 p.m. to 5 p.m. (Count me in). 

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