Do you live in a built-up area? Then the rumble of traffic noise might wake you earlier than you’d like. 7am is the beginning of peak traffic period in most major towns and cities in the UK.
The 24-hour sleep guide
A guide to a good night's sleep
During both the day and night, a world of factors can influence how we sleep. From light and noise pollution to our own habits, to the inner workings of our bodies - we track 24-hours of everything that might impact your sleep.Wake up
Rise and shine! This is the average wake-up time in the UK. If you’re still feeling sleepy, you might not have had 7-8 hours of sleep.
Get the low down on what’s keeping you up >
Even if you’re feeling groggy when you first wake up, between 8am and 9am the average body is at its peak of cortisol production. This should help you to feel awake and alert.1
Most schools and work places will begin their day between 8am and 10am so let’s hope you’re awake and have had a healthy breakfast packed with nutrients, to get you going.
Find out how >
The end of peak morning traffic time. Chronic noise, like traffic, can raise cortisol levels, increasing stress. If you live or work on a busy road, use earplugs or noise cancelling headphones.
Mid-morning and many of us will be stopping for a cuppa and a snack. Nutritionist Libby Limon recommends a cup of green tea to energise you. Take a peek at what else she recommends >
Between noon and 1pm a typical body will experience another peak in cortisol2 so you should be feeling alert and fully awake by now.
Lunch is often taken between the hours of noon and 2pm. This provides your body with fuel to get you through the day and essential nutrients to promote sleep later on.
During summer, the sun is at its highest point in the sky just after 1pm.3 This is also when UV is at its highest, so watch out for sunburn if you’re out in the midday hours.
If you’re tired after lunch, dehydration could be a factor. Even a 1.5% loss of your body’s water weight can affect your energy levels and mood – so drink water regularly during the day.4
Does your energy start to slump mid-afternoon? Between 2pm and 4pm your core body temperature will naturally start to fall, one potential cause for that post-lunch dip.5
Most schools in the UK end their day between 3pm and 4pm.6 If you’re picking up the kids and your energy’s crashing, have a reviving snack such as a handful of nuts or a piece of fruit.
Ready to rumble? It’s the start of peak evening traffic time.7 You may be feeling tired after a long day, but if you’re sleepy on your way home, you’re not getting enough rest.
Find out why >
And relax. The working day is over. Typical UK working hours will end between 5pm and 6pm; it’s time to think about relaxing and unwinding before you go to bed.
While many of us are settling down after work, some shift workers are just getting started! They have to work extra hard to get a good sleep.
Take a look at how to combat sleep distractions >
This is officially the end of peak traffic time.8 With less noise pollution from the roads, you should find it easier to relax as you move towards bedtime.9
If you’ve had a tipple after work, it’s time to go home! It takes an hour to break down a unit of alcohol, and even a small amount in your system can affect your sleep.10
For digestive ease, it’s recommended you avoid eating anything for three hours before bed – so this is the latest you should eat dinner.
Discover how to eat your way to better sleep >
As the sun goes down, your body produces more melatonin (a hormone which controls sleep), and less serotonin. Blue light disrupts this, so turn off your digital devices two hours before bed!
Sunset at midsummer. When you’re abroad, the different time of sunrise and sunset will confuse your biological clock.
Learn how to get over jet lag here >
Time of full moonrise on Midsummer night 2017 in the UK. This changes every day, as the moon moves 12 degrees east across the sky.11 Foxes experience a spike in activity at dusk – let's hope they won’t keep you up later!
Lighting-up time in London and many towns and cities. Streetlights must come on one half-hour after sunset, and vehicles must use their headlights on unlit roads. Black out blinds should help if your window faces a busy, or street-lit road >
Twilight ends and the darkest part of the night begins. This occurs at different times around the world and your body takes time to adjust to the new routine.
It’s time to get those teens to bed – they’ll thank you tomorrow! Teenagers need between 8-10 hours’ sleep. This is the perfect time for them to turn in if they wake at 7:35am.
If you live by a flight path, you’ll be glad that limited numbers of flights are allowed at airports from this time. Only quiet aircrafts are allowed to fly – keeping the peace at night!12
Put down your book and turn the lights out. This is the optimum bedtime for an adult with a 7:35am wake up. On average, it takes between 10 and 20 minutes to fall asleep, so it’s important to get your head down on time.
If you set your alarm for 7:35am, you should be asleep by this point to make sure you achieve a full 8 hours’ rest.
Midnight. Traditionally, this is known as the middle of the night or even the witching hour. Hopefully you won’t even know, as you’ll be sound asleep and getting the rest you need.
The first sleep cycle of the night usually lasts between 70-100 minutes. If you fell asleep at 11:35pm, you would complete your first sleep cycle between 12:45am and 01:15am.13
Until 1997, the BBC would ‘sign-off’ and cease transmission between 11:30pm and 1:01am. Now, many TV channels broadcast through the night, encouraging some to stay up late!14
It’s tempting to stay up late working, reading or watching box sets, but poor sleep can have serious health consequences.
Find out what Dr Neil Stanley has to say about sleep, here >
Still struggling to drop off? If your sleeping environment is messy, your brain interprets this as an unfinished task. Clear the clutter and it could help you sleep better.
You should be in your third sleep cycle by this point. In each successive sleep cycle, REM sleep (the restorative phase) becomes longer, so try to achieve an uninterrupted night’s sleep.15
A not so fun fact! Bed bugs reach peak activity time at roughly an hour before dawn.16 If you suspect you’ve encountered bed bugs on holiday, be careful not to carry these critters home or you might need to choose your new mattress now.
They might not be your feathered friends if you’re a light sleeper. As twilight begins the dim light triggers some birds, such as Robins, to begin their dawn chorus early.
The coldest part of the day occurs in the hours before sunrise.17
Find advice on how to achieve the perfect temperature for sleep, here >
The sun rises in London, and most birds will now begin their dawn chorus. If you don’t fancy a very early morning, make sure your curtains block out light and you have ear plugs, if you need them.
Farmers, commuters and those who like to exercise before work may be up at this hour. If it’s hours before your alarm and you’re wide awake it’s time to consider your diet and sleep habits.
The restrictions on flight quantity and aircraft carrier types is lifted.
When you first open your eyes in the morning, you'll soon know whether you've had a good night's rest.
If you're feeling groggy and tired – you need to work on how to get better sleep. But whatever it is that's keeping you up at night - be it diet, stress or needing a new bed - by changing your habits throughout the day and fine tuning your evening routine, you can uncover the secrets of slumber.