We have all heard that sleep in the hours before midnight is more beneficial and that these hours count double. Although things aren’t quite that straightforward, we can say that if you don’t suffer from a sleep disorder or insomnia, and you get your eight hours a night, it’s simple.
Going to bed relatively early and using the first gateway will enable you to be totally in sync with your biological clock (core body temperature starts dropping at 9 p.m. on average) and minimises what is known as homeostatic pressure (the pressure accumulated during waking hours; the ideal ratio is 16 hours awake to 8 hours asleep). When these two processes are perfectly synchronised, you will get an excellent night’s sleep, sufficient to re-energise you well. If they are out of sync (in what is known as a sleep phase disorder), you will not sleep as much or as deeply, resulting in fatigue.
However, if you need less sleep or are subject to bouts of insomnia, your priority should be to get all your sleep in one go. You will be best off waiting for the second gateway and then sleeping through to the next morning. Likewise, you should avoid napping so that sleep pressure is not relieved during the day.