Health & Fitness

We Used a Sleep Calculator For 5 Days and Here’s What Happened

May 8, 2023   By Clarisa Mcdonald

Do you wake up feeling tired in the morning? Your sleep schedule could be all wrong. It’s not always about getting more sleep, but taking steps to ensure your body experiences complete sleep cycles, no matter how long you’re actually asleep.

If you find yourself waking feeling groggy and unmotivated, your body may not be completing full sleep cycles. Each sleep cycle lasts about 90 minutes and repeats 4-6 times during the night. Waking up midway through a cycle can leave you feeling tired and unenergised, even if you’ve had plenty of sleep. If you can wake after a full cycle, you’re likely to feel more awake and refreshed, even if you’ve actually slept for less time. That’s why sometimes when you’re late to bed, you feel surprisingly awake the next day and with the feeling of a good night’s sleep.

Have you ever had a late night out at an event and gone to bed worried about how tired you’ll be in the morning meeting, only to find you feel uncharacteristically awake?! Your body probably completed a full sleep cycle. 

To investigate whether waking after a complete sleep cycle really impacts how you feel when you wake up, we used the Ecosa sleep calculator to determine the best time to wake up and the best time to go to bed. The sleep cycle calculator works by telling you the best time to wake up based on the time you plan to go to bed, or the other way around – if you need to wake up by a certain time, it’ll tell you the best time to drift off. 

The test subject was Emma from our creative team. A serial alarm-snoozer, Emma used the sleep calculator to work out the best times to fall asleep to feel the most alert. Here’s what happened:


Sleep time: 11.00pm

Awake time: 6.00am


A busy weekend meant I was really overtired this morning – I don’t think any number of sleep cycles or any amount of sleep would have made me feel less groggy! I did try to go to sleep at 10.30pm to wake at 6.00am, but I was restless. The 6.00am wakeup time was non-negotiable as I had to drop my partner off. I felt a bit groggy at first, but taking an afternoon power nap made me able to power through the day.


Sleep time: 11.00pm

Awake time: 6.30am


Usually, when going to sleep as late as 11 pm, I’d have assumed I needed to get as much sleep as possible by sleeping in until the last minute, but after consulting the Ecosa sleep calculator,  I set my alarm for 6.30am instead. While it was tough to get out of bed earlier than I technically had to, I definitely felt more alert. I even did a YouTube workout before 7am, AND didn’t fall asleep at my desk by the afternoon!


Sleep time: 10.30pm

Awake time: 6.00am


I’d made a pact with a friend to wake up early and work out. I’d planned to go to bed at 10pm, but according to the Ecosa sleep calculator, I’d be more likely to complete full sleep cycles by my 6am alarm if I went to sleep at 10.30. When my alarm went off at 6am, I got up, splashed my face with cold water and immediately had a drink. I felt ready to workout fairly quickly, and didn’t take as long as normal to fully wake up. Either I completed full sleep cycles or my friend pact was working! Either way, it felt like I’ve had enough sleep and I’m beginning to develop healthier sleep habits.


Sleep time: 11.00pm

Awake time: 6.00am


Ok, I messed up here. I had planned to do the same as Wednesday night, and drift off around 10.30pm for a 6.00am wakeup, but I didn’t manage to settle until 11.00pm. I looked at the Ecosa sleep calculator, which recommended I get up at 5.00am or 6.30am instead. 5am, um no thank you! And 6.30am wouldn’t be long enough to complete the workout I had in mind for the next morning, so I went for it knowing I might not complete full sleep cycles. Despite getting 7 hours of sleep, the feeling of sleep deprivation and grogginess still kicked in.


Sleep time: 10.30pm

Awake time: 5.50am


My body clock’s wake time today was 5.50am, which was a surprise! As a chronic non-morning person, being able to set a routine for my body to complete the same sleep cycles and sleep patterns each night is amazing. I had a really good night’s sleep, too. Maybe I’ll be the productive morning person I always dreamed of being now?! Who knows, right? With good sleep hygiene and healthy sleep habits, it seems like I’m off to healthier well-being.

What Are the Sleep Cycles?

Sleep cycles or circadian rhythms are the different stages of sleep that person goes through once they go into slumber. At each phase of the sleep cycle, the human body goes through different steps in restoring and repairing itself. Likewise, growth and memory retention is also part of sleep – this is one of the main reasons why good sleep quality is highly encouraged.

Transitional Sleep

Lasting about 5 minutes, this stage of your sleep cycle is essentially the time during which you’re falling asleep. You’re easily awakened, but your muscle activity is starting to slow down.

Light Sleep

This second stage lasts a little longer at 10-25 minutes. Your heart rate slows and your body temperature cools, and you enter the first part of truly restorative sleep. Light sleep is also the first phase of NREM or non-rapid eye movement sleep.

Deep Sleep

Deep sleep is the second phase of non-rem sleep. This is where physical energy is restored, and blood flow reaches your muscles. If you’re woken during this time, you’ll probably feel noticeably groggy and confused. 

REM Sleep

REM sleep is the stage of your sleep cycle in which you dream. You’ll reach REM sleep around 70-90 minutes after falling asleep, and this stage signals the end of the cycle. Your heart rate and blood pressure increase but your body will remain very still, as your body prepares to complete a sleep cycle.

Why Use a Sleep Calculator

On average, our sleep pattern revolves around 90-minute sleep cycles; in these 90 minutes, we go from non-rem sleep to rem sleep, which then cycles back to non-rem sleep again. Waking up towards the end of a sleep cycle or during rem sleep is more ideal than waking up in the middle of it, as this helps you feel more refreshed and avoid sleepiness throughout the day.

Sleep calculators are designed for you to wake up at more ideal times which leads to better sleep quality and more alertness throughout the day. Oftentimes, it’s not just the number of hours that you get to sleep, but it’s also at which phase of your sleep cycle do you get out of bed.

How to Feel More Awake on Less Sleep

So, if your pumping social schedule or a week of exams means you’ve got a week of unavoidable late nights planned, going to bed at the right time may help you feel more awake on less sleep. A better night’s sleep isn’t always down to how many hours – try looking at how many sleep cycles you can fit in, instead!

Create better sleep patterns and habits and you’d be off to getting better sleep health.

Use the Ecosa sleep calculator to find the right bedtime for you.

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