How You (A Night Owl) Can Survive in an Early Bird's World
Did you know, an estimated 80% of Americans adhere to a daily work schedule that starts at 6 am and finishes at 6 pm (1)?
This is incredible when you consider over one-third of the population claim to be night owls!
Unsurprisingly, this routine doesn’t complement those who can’t sleep until late at night.
The result is a concept called "social jetlag." This is where night owls feel fatigued, even when they get enough sleep. They’re continually fighting their natural body clocks, and it's exhausting.
If you consider yourself a night owl, you know all of this too well.
You are forced to wake at a time dictated by social norms, despite your predisposition to waking later. Consequently, you’re sleep deprived, tired and groggy.
The society and your workplace probably favor those who wake up early. This is great if you’re a morning person, but not so fantastic if you’re a night owl.
Don’t worry, we have simple solutions that’ll help you regulate your sleeping pattern. We’re confident you’ll feel fresh and rested when you put our advice into action.
But before we talk about the solutions, you should know what makes you a night owl. Let’s dive in!
Are You an Early Bird or a Night Owl?
There are two primary sleeping patterns:
1. Early birds
2. Night owls
Early birds typically embody the below characteristics:
Enjoy a good night’s sleep
Boast a regular sleeping pattern
Generally, feel happier and healthier
Whereas, night owls:
Have difficulty falling asleep at night and waking in the morning
Are prone to depression
Have a higher risk of obesity
Are more likely to be caffeine dependent
Do you identify yourself as a night owl and feel anxious after you read this?
As depressing as this sounds, don’t worry, as we’ve already said, we have a solution.
So, why are there two kinds of sleeping schedules?
Well, every living thing has an internal body clock, the so-called "circadian rhythm (2)" which regulates our sleep cycles.
Unsurprisingly, the human biological clock is roughly 24 hours. Some of us have slightly longer sequences, and others, a bit shorter.
Those with an extended circadian rhythm are more likely to be night owls. Typically, they produce more of the sleep hormone, melatonin, later at night. This naturally makes them active later in the evening.
Whereas, if your circadian rhythm is a little shorter, you’re usually predisposed to be an early bird.
How Does Circadian Rhythm Affect You?
Interestingly, our circadian rhythms change over time. The below pattern is very common:
Children: early bird
Teenager: night owl
Adult: gradual transition back to early rising
Yet, this pattern isn’t true of everyone.
If you’re reading this, chances are you’re an adult with a day job, and if you’re also a night owl, this poses an issue.
Waking up is tough, not to mention the continual drain of never feeling energized!
Never fear, it’s not all bad. A recent study shows night owls are better at focusing as the day progresses.
How Does Circadian Rhythm Affect You?
Put simply; yes. It’s possible to adjust your circadian rhythm.
On an evolutional level, it didn’t matter because both night owls and morning larks served an integral role in ancient civilizations.
Millions of years ago, while our morning-lark-ancestors hunted for food, night owls would protect their tribes at night. There wasn’t a need for night owls to alter their sleeping patterns.
Nowadays, unless you work night shifts, falling asleep later doesn't boast many benefits. It just leaves you feeling groggy and tired all day long.
We think we can all agree, we’re more likely to make mistakes when we’re tired.
There’s nothing more embarrassing than sending an email to the wrong person, making silly typos in our work, or just accidentally spilling the coffee!
Luckily for night owls, you can safely alter your circadian rhythm (3). One of the things you can do is exposing yourself to light signals:
When your alarm clock chimes, try and get outside as soon as possible. Allow yourself a few minutes to take in the morning sun. The light signals indicate to your brain it’s time to wake up, which gradually relieves you of your dozy state.
Ensure your home's well-lit first thing in the morning. This isn’t as effective as natural daylight, but it’ll certainly help achieve the same effect.
Here are a few other pieces of advice that'll help night owls realign their circadian rhythm:
1. Wear a sleep mask
As we’ve just said, controlling your exposure to light signals is the most effective way to re-schedule your circadian rhythm.
Learning how to wear a sleep mask lets you submerge yourself into complete darkness. This tells your brain it’s time to sleep and helps ensure you get some much-needed decent quality rest.
You can digest the sleep hormone melatonin. This is amazing for helping you drift off to sleep (4).
Generally, you can take a dose anywhere between 0.5 and 5 mg. How much you’ll require depends on your weight, age, and sensitivity to melatonin, so keep that in mind before popping any pills.
3. Change job (yes, this is crazy)
Try searching for jobs that complement your sleeping pattern.
Sometimes we don’t need to change the way we are, we just need to find an option that works for us. Perhaps start your own business or try freelancing so you can set your own working hours.
It’s Time Night Owls Got Better Sleep!
Yes, current society favors morning larks. So, for now, as unfortunate as it is, night owls need to learn to roll with it.
There’s nothing wrong with being a night owl, but if you want to keep up with your demanding work schedule, try the tips in this blog post. They’ll certainly help improve the quality of your sleep.
Keep in mind that it'll take some lifestyle tweaks. For example, night owls find it easier to stay up and indulge in movie or TV series marathons. Not a good thing if you want to realign your circadian rhythms.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this website or provided through our blog, e-mails, or programs is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment that can be provided by your healthcare professionals.