If you are a night owl, chances are you are thriving and productive throughout the night, but mornings aren’t your thing. However, staying up past midnight is all fun and games until you need to do things the next day. The modern world is geared toward early birds, making it challenging to stick to your preferred sleep schedule if you don’t exactly fit into that category.
Selecting the right mattress and incorporating other sleep-promoting habits can help night owls improve their sleep quality and adapt better to the demands of daily life. You may have heard of chronotypes. But, if you haven’t, a chronotype is a natural tendency for your body to sleep at a certain time. Studies indicate that chronotype is a heritable trait, meaning your sleep patterns may have been encoded in your DNA. So, there is nothing you have done that made you prefer the late hours you keep — it’s just simply biology.
While night owls get a bad rap, being one has some advantages. Compared to morning people, night owls were found to be more creative, have higher IQs and get much more done with their time. But, unfortunately, the cons of being a night owl outweigh the pros. The biggest disadvantage is that you are more prone to mental and physical illness and are more likely to be sleep deprived.
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Your Circadian Rhythm
Your circadian rhythm is the 24-hour rhythm your body’s internal clock runs on. This clock is controlled by a small area in the middle of the brain that regulates the body’s essential functions, including hormones, body temperature, digestion and sleep/wake cycles. Everyone’s circadian rhythm runs on a different clock. Throughout the day, your brain will send signals to regulate different functions. So if you are fighting what your body clock tells you, it can throw everything off balance.
Light exposure is one of the biggest factors that regulate your circadian rhythm, with sunlight typically indicating when to be awake or asleep. However, with the advancement of technology, humans are now getting light from multiple sources, including blue light exposure from TVs and cell phones, which disrupts the body’s clock and the production of melatonin — the hormone that controls your sleep-wake cycle.
Along with blue light from devices, sleep habits, shift work and jet lag can all impact your internal clock. When your circadian rhythm is thrown off, it will wreak havoc on your sleep schedule and have a ripple effect on your overall health.
Is It Possible to Change?
The good news is that chronotypes are not set in stone. Just because you were born a night owl or your habits have turned you into one doesn’t mean you will have to be one forever. Gradually introducing small changes into your life each day makes it possible to transition into being an early bird. The biggest changes you can make are:
- Exercising consistently during the day
- Going to bed 15 minutes earlier every night
- Decreasing unnecessary light exposure
Better Sleep for Night Owls
Changing your sleeping habits is easier said than done. While you may start going to bed earlier, the ability to fall asleep can be where the challenge lies. Tossing, turning, staring at the clock and being unable to shut your brain off can leave you lying there for hours. Even once you get to sleep, staying asleep may be difficult. If that’s the case, try these helpful tips to get to sleep and stay there.
Tips to Get to Sleep Quickly
Comfortable Bed – If you haven’t purchased a new bed in the last 10 years, it may be time for an upgrade, especially if you have a single or double bed. A memory foam bed-in-a-box mattress can be mailed to your door, providing an affordable queen or king mattress you can sprawl on. Sleeping on an old mattress with a lack of support can cause neck and back issues over time, impacting sleep quality. Also, if you have chronic pain that is preventing you from sleeping, there are many adjustable beds on the market designed to take pressure off the spine and relieve chronic pain.
- Skincare Ritual – A skincare ritual is great for creating your new path into early-bird life. It is an act of self-love to take the time, which benefits your sleep ritual and helps your skin look fresh and rejuvenated.
- Caffeine Intake – Clearing caffeine out of your bloodstream can take up to 10 hours. Drinking coffee too late in the day can disrupt your sleep length and quality. Try to limit caffeine intake to just the morning.
- Establish Routines – Creating a pre-sleep routine around getting ready for bed will signal your body into knowing it’s time to get some rest. This could include reading, meditation or a warm bath.
Tips for Staying Asleep All Night Long
- Get Rid of Distractions – Anything that makes noise or emits light should be removed from the bedroom. For example, keep TVs, tablets, laptops and even phones out of the bedroom or away from the bed. If nothing else, ensure the screens are off.
- Meals – Refrain from consuming large meals too close to bedtime. Your muscles are meant to be resting, but if they are busy digesting a meal, it can hinder you from reaching deep sleep. On the other hand, having a light snack is perfectly acceptable and even encouraged, as it helps stabilize your blood sugar levels while you sleep. Some recommended bedtime snacks include a small bowl of whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk, a banana with a tablespoon of almond butter or a handful of mixed nuts and dried fruit.
- Temperature – Adjust your thermostat down a couple of degrees before you go to bed — 65°F recommended as the perfect sleeping temperature. A cooler room is the ideal temperature, as it promotes higher melatonin production. It is also the best environment to keep you comfortable and allow your body to rest and rebuild in.
- Melatonin Supplements – You may want to consider taking melatonin supplements until your circadian rhythm falls back into a normal cycle. A melatonin supplement thirty to sixty minutes before bed will help you fall asleep faster and improve your sleep quality.
Being a night owl has its advantages but can also pose significant challenges to overall health and well-being. By understanding the factors that contribute to this chronotype and gradually adjusting your sleep schedule and habits, you can improve your sleep quality and better adapt to the demands of daily life.
Remember to prioritize a comfortable sleep environment, establish a consistent pre-sleep routine and manage factors like light exposure, caffeine intake and meal timing to achieve a more restful and restorative slumber. With dedication and persistence, even the most steadfast night owl can transition toward a healthier, more balanced sleep schedule that caters to the needs of both their body and the modern world.
Also Read: Six Tips From The Experts To Sleep Better