Ask LH: When Is It No Longer Worth Trying To Fall Back To Sleep?

Hi Lifehacker, Sometimes I wake up earlier than my morning alarm. This can be as little as five minutes but sometime as much as an hour. I don’t feel like I get enough sleep on the whole but once I’m awake I can’t help checking the clock. My question is: at what point is it no longer worth me trying to get back to sleep? Is there a point that I might as well just get out of bed? Thanks, Slumberlicious

Sleepy picture from Shutterstock

Dear Slumberlicious,

Waking up multiple times a night is quite normal. During the night, our body shifts between “deep sleep” and “light sleep”, with each sleep cycle lasting approximately 90 minutes. The key to feeling well-rested in the morning is to time your return to consciousness with the end of one of these cycles. Apps like can help in this department as can this simple web calculator.

If you don’t need to get up for an hour or more, attempting to get more shuteye probably wont hurt. However, if your alarm is due to go off in less than an hour, staying in bed can become a bit riskier.

Each time you fall back asleep, your sleep cycle starts from the beginning. If you successfully drift off again, you’ll likely be in the middle of a deep sleep when the alarm goes off. This can leave you feeling even groggier than when you initially woke up.

See also: Why Hitting The Snooze Button Is Bad For You | How To Make Getting Out Of Bed In The Morning Easier

So yes, there is a point when you might as well get out of bed. If you’ve only got 30 minutes left on the clock, take a few moments to boot your brain up and enjoy a leisurely breakfast for a change. You’ll probably end up feeling more relaxed and alert throughout the day; despite technically getting less sleep.

In addition to obeying your body clock, you should also take the necessary steps to ensure you’re getting the best quality sleep you can. This guide contains plenty of advice on how to develop good sleeping habits. You can also find out how to transform your bedroom into a perfect sleep sanctuary here. Good luck!


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