Why Waking Up At The Same Time Every Day Improves Your Sleep (Yes, Weekends Too)

Sleeping is something everyone does, yet it can start to feel like an out-of-reach luxury when you can't stop yawning at work or struggle to wind down at night. Getting enough shut-eye is a big deal — just ask your body. Sleep plays a vital role in maintaining heart health, digestion, immunity, cognitive health, and other bodily functions, per the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. When you don't spend enough time catching ZZZs, you not only suffer from fatigue — your entire system suffers too.


So just go to bed, fall asleep quickly, and wake up alert and ready to go the next day. Problem solved, right? If only it were that easy: The CDC reports that 35% of Americans regularly lack sleep, and a survey by Philips discovered that 62% of adults worldwide feel they don't sleep well.

Though shifting your bedtime earlier can be one way to try to get more rest, the secret to better sleep may actually have more to do with waking up at the same time every day.

Your wake-up time runs your circadian rhythm

Your circadian rhythm — or your internal body clock — controls your wake-sleep schedule. According to Healthline, the routine you keep each day plays an important role in managing this rhythm. And one of the biggest factors is when you choose to wake up. "Your body needs a goalpost to understand when to start the day," Stephanie Romiszewski, a sleep physiologist from the Sleepyhead Clinic, told Stylist. She added that when it comes to your wake-up time, consistency is key. "If you keep shifting that [goalpost] then the body physiologically can't do all the things that you want it to during the day at consistent timings."


Your circadian rhythm controls how much energy you have to take on daily tasks and bodily functions, but it doesn't stop there. A regular circadian rhythm keeps your sleep schedule in check too. In fact, a body clock that's constantly out of whack can indicate (and lead to) sleep disorders. While medical treatment may be required to deal with these issues, sometimes all it takes is waking up at the same time each day to reset your system.

You'll no longer be at war with your alarm

It's early Monday morning, and you're in full zombie mode after sleeping in over the weekend. Sound familiar? What you're experiencing is social jet lag, a term used by sleep experts to describe the difference between your weekend and weekday sleep schedules. "By staying up late on Friday and Saturday nights and sleeping in both days afterward, you're essentially forcing your body into a different time zone," sleep specialist Dr. Raj Dasgupta explained to CNN. The fix Dr. Dasgupta recommends is simple: "Instead of waking and sleeping at times that are out of sync with your internal clock and shifting between two different sleep schedules (one for weekdays and one for weekends), try to maintain a healthy and consistent sleep schedule."


Though waking up early on the weekends may sound like torture, it's one way to tackle Monday mornings — and other early weekday mornings — like a pro, without sleeping through your alarm or hitting snooze multiple times. When you're fighting your alarm clock every morning, Dr. Ellen Vora, a holistic psychiatrist, says, "Nobody wins. You're not getting great rest, and you're also not having a leisurely, relaxed morning" (via mbg Health).

Goodbye, late-night insomnia

When you start waking up at the same time every day and your circadian rhythm is in sync, your bedtime will often become regular too. "What I've found anecdotally is that once people start waking up at the same time, after about three weeks, they tend to adopt a consistent bedtime as a result," Dr. Michael Breus, a clinical psychologist and sleep specialist, shared with Well+Good.


One explanation for this shift has to do with melatonin production. Though several things can trigger the body to release melatonin — like darkness, for example — the time you choose to wake up can also be a massive influence. A 2015 report published in Best Practice Journal notes that, in a normal circadian rhythm pattern, melatonin is released in the body about 14 hours after you wake up. So if you wake up at 7 a.m., your hormone glands will start secreting melatonin around 9 p.m., making you feel drowsy. But if you wake up at 10 a.m., melatonin production will be delayed until midnight.

If you struggle to fall asleep at night, look to your morning habits. Waking up late or changing the time on your alarm for different days of the week could be to blame for your insomnia.


How to keep a consistent wake-up schedule

Even if all you want to do in the morning is stay tucked under the covers for as long as possible, waking up at the same time every day can improve your sleep and, as a result, your overall well-being. And no, you don't have to be a morning person to pull it off. If your schedule allows, you can wake up as late as you want every day, as Dr. Chris Winter, a sleep expert, told Women's Health. What's most important is that the time you choose is consistent, whether that's a 6:00 a.m. rise time every morning or a later time like 10 a.m.


If you're struggling to adjust, let in natural light right after turning off your alarm. According to Sleep Foundation, light exposure tells your body to stop releasing melatonin so you can start feeling alert and ready for the day. If you wake up before the sun rises, try buying an alarm or using an alarm app on your phone that emits light.

Finally, if you're still struggling to fall asleep at night, avoid lying in bed wide awake for hours. Mayo Clinic suggests getting out of bed after 20 minutes and doing a relaxing activity in another room until you feel sleepy. Even if you doze off later than planned, continue waking up at your regular time to keep your body clock on track.