Set Your Alarm to SLEEP, Not Wake Up!

Alarm Clock

For most of you out there, I bet you had to take a double take when you read the article title!

Yes, you did read it correctly.

We are so conditioned about what time we awake at; that we have never even questioned whether this is even the best course of action for us.

Well, it’s not (probably)! Focusing on what time you go to sleep is far more important than focusing on what time you wake at. You automatically set the scene for waking up at the best time for you and, in effect, when you want to.

When I am out, past my bedtime, and my sleep alarms go off, people are both highly amused and baffled! Ralph, your alarm is going off. Oh, that’s my “first” alarm to go to sleep shortly, so I am going to have to leave in a bit.

They then say…What you have an alarm to go to sleep? Are you nuts??

It gets even funnier as that’s not even the only alarm…


I Have 3 Alarms To Go To Sleep!


The first makes me aware that wherever I am, I need to be considering that it’s bedtime soon, which is very handy when out, as I will often get lost in conversation and forget all awareness of time. Also, if at home and reading, this signals that I can finish the chapter.

The next alarm is to inform me that I need to get into bed, put my book down and turn my phone on aeroplane mode now. Then if out, a very grateful reminder that I haven’t yet left where I am and need to leave now!

Then finally, as I like to read a book on mindset for the last half an hour of the day just before sleeping, this tells me its lights out, Ralphy!


And Lights Out It Is.

Then when morning comes, I have an incredible knack for awaking just before I want to. That depends on the time of the year, either 0530 in the summer or 5 am in winter. I have a backup alarm around 6 am, for the occasional days, I want a brief sleep-in yet still want to seize the day.

Now, do I stick to this every single day of my life? Of course not! Sometimes I simply can’t be arsed, as I am human and will lie there if I have had a particularly demanding day, whether physically or mentally, until 8 am and wrack up 9 or 10 hours of sleep!

However, most days, i.e. around 6 out of 7, this great habit kicks in and works wonders for my life.

One of the critical things when it comes to sleep, I have worked out over decades of optimising my sleep is that:

“Your tomorrow starts today.”


And the best way to achieve this is…Same time tomorrow! Consistency of sleep time.

It doesn’t stop there either. By setting a daily evening bedtime routine, you get into great automatic habits of not just going to sleep but also telling your mind and body that you are in the process of going to sleep, making sleeping a lot easier and faster.

The easiest way to get great results is to build a habit, and the easiest way to make a habit is to start small.

And arguably the MOST crucial sleep improvement habit or skill you could ever learn is:


“Go to bed the same time every single night.”


The body loves this, as you get it into a familiar pattern, it knows when you do X, in my case, shower at 7 pm, sleep is about to follow (of which it does).

So, let’s look at my typical sleep plan every evening, which will help you see what I do. Then, we can run through each aspect and what you could do to make implementing this super easy.


Ralph’s Evening Sleep Schedule


To help give you a real-life example, below is my winter sleep schedule. In the summer, when it gets dark around 1030pm, I will often put back my sleep to 10 pm simply because it just feels weird to go to sleep when it’s still light. The key is to maintain a maximum of a 30-minute window; once you exceed this, you put your body out of sync.

Whereas in the winter my sleep routine is consistently the below:


7 pm – STOP work minimum 2 hours before sleep time.

I want my brain to start to wind down and relax without having lots of busy thoughts radiating through my brain come lights out. Do not underestimate this aspect just because it sounds so simple.


7 pm – Walk or Socialise.

( ensure it is just a short walk so as not to over-stimulate the body and allow 2 hours between last exercise and sleep time.


815 pm – Pre-sleep ablutions. Hot shower, floss/brush teeth, moisturise. 

There are a few reasons you don’t want to wait until just before bed. The process of doing this often stimulates you, you often can’t be bothered just before bed as tired, and it will usually involve bright bathroom lights that will wake you up. The last thing we want before sleep is to stimulate ourselves.


830 pm – Into Bed & Read.

Preferably not in bed as you want a bed to be just for sleep so that as soon as your head hits that pillow, it says to your brain, it’s bedtime. However, I like to read in bed, so I have triggered my brain to associate reading with the last thing before sleep time.


9 pm – Phone off and put on charge in my office.

We cover this shortly however, having your phone physically in another room stops you from getting out of that nice and warm cosy bed to go and blast yourself with blue light and mentally stimulate yourself.


930 pm – Lights off and asleep.

Let’s now break each one down for you…


Set Your Alarm to Sleep


This is so important, as when creating a new habit you will sometimes forget and resort to autopilot. Which, in this case, is to go to bed after having worked late, come home from entertaining or sit on the sofa watching TV etc.

Now, this is all I want you to do for the first day is set your alarm. In fact, do it now, get your phone out and set the alarm for the bedtime you would like to be asleep at.

You don’t need to have any intention of actually going to sleep at this time. It’s simply the bedtime you would like to go to sleep at every day.

Now for the next two days, when the alarm goes off, don’t do anything (that’s unless, of course, you want to). Just be aware for 10-20 seconds that this is the new sleep time you would like to start to go to sleep at, then carry on with your evening.

On the third day, ask yourself, when the alarm goes off, are you ready to sleep now? Can I fall asleep now? If not, carry on with your evening.

Do the same on day 4.


What Time Would You Like to Go to Sleep?


Day 5, if you haven’t started to go to sleep at this time already, I want you to take your usual bedtime against your ideal bedtime.

For example, if you go to bed at 2330 and want to go to bed at 2200, then take 2330 – 2200 = 1 hour 30 mins.

Next, divide the time, in this case, 90 mins by 30, i.e. 3.

To change your sleep time by more than ½ hour a day is a challenging task for most people (not all, though), and my goal for you is your success. This requires you to put the best environment in place to facilitate your goals so that you action what you want to achieve.

So, in our example, it will take you three days (90 mins/30 mins = 3 days) to easily transition from 2330 to your ultimate goal of 2200.

Always remember small, simple steps every time. You want to make this easy on yourself.


Your Next Steps…


Would you like to wake up every morning and not feel guilty about having watched that “extra” Netflix episode?

If so, this sounds like just the plan for you!

Awaking and feeling refreshed every morning is one of those beautiful yet simply life gifts, and it’s one I love to share to help people.

Please be aware that I am no saint, and I do from time to time also stay up late watching films and have the occasional sleep in. This is not to be a rigid iron-clad plan, but more a structure or basis for how to build a life and life is there to break the rules from time to time.


How Ralph Can Help You Sleep Even Better?


Have you liked what you have read?

Would you now like to know more, about how I can help you sleep better? Then download my free gift to you “Ralph’s 7 Steps to Sleep” . Plus for the next 12 weeks we will send you a weekly lesson on how to improve your sleep even more!

Just click the big golden button below, and it will be sat waiting in your email inbox (don’t forget to check spam just in case) for you to help get that vitalized sleep your body has been craving for months now…

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