Sleep Well

Woman up at night

What Makes One A Morning Person Vs. A Night Person

Night people never get respect. Day people are productive. Night people are lazy. Day people have jobs and families and drive nice cars. Night people live with their parents. Day people eat well and see the doctor regularly. Night people miss the breakfast special and sleep through doctor’s appointments. If you are a night person and feel you have been judged unfairly, take heart. There are plenty of great night people out there who have done very well for themselves, and are now even living on their own! However, if you are wondering what you might have done to become the heathen that you are, here is some valuable insight.

Sleep Patterns
Each person has their own cicadian rhythm. Katherine Sharkey, MD, PhD, at Brown University says, ” The human clock is about 24 hours, thanks to earth’s 24- hour light-dark cycle. But some people have a slightly longer natural cycle and some are slightly shorter.” Those with a longer circadian rhythm tend to be night owls, while shorter circadian rhythms are more common in early risers. However, your circadian rhythm is not necessarily set for life. While school -age children tend to get up early, teenagers favor the night. Adults, on the other hand, usually transition back into being morning people.

Night Owls Vs. Morning People
Aside from having to hold down a day job, there are other problems a night person may encounter, According to Sharkey, “night owls tend to be more depressed, have a higher dependence on caffeine, and use alcohol more.” However, a recent study in Belgium found that night people are able to maintain more focus as the day goes on than their early rising counterparts. Of course, morning people get points for other reasons. “Larks generally sleep better, have more regular sleep patterns and have more flexible personalities,” explains Sharkey. A study from the university of Toronto shows that they also feel happier and healthier than late risers.

Different Brains
Researchers at Germany’s Aschen University found structural differences between people with different sleep tendencies. They found that night owls had a diminished integrity of white matter in the brain; white matter being the fatty tissue responsible for communication of nerve cells. Reduced white matter has been known to lead to depression and disruption of cognitive function. Other research has uncovered an “alarm clock” gene that starts the biological clock in the body after its nightly sleep and other studies using twins have shown genetic links to aspects of sleep.

What Can We Do?
If studies show that our likelihood of being a day or night person is genetic or biological, is there any hope of change for the wayward night owl? Studies show that limiting nocturnal exposure to light and increasing exposure to sunlight can help to modify sleep-wake patterns. It is also a good idea to be mindful about the consumption of alcohol before you sleep and to try and maintain a regular sleep schedule. Also, make sure you are sleeping in a dark room free of electronic gadgets for a peaceful rest.

If you are a night person, let us know how you feel! Does society need to become more flexible or do you need to start waking up earlier? Let us know what you think!

Woman having trouble sleeping

The Daily Challenges Of Night Owls

If one is really interested in the daily challenges of “night owls,” perhaps they should ask Gene Simmons. After all, it is he who is responsible for writing the iconic lyrics to Kiss’ 1970’s hit single, “Rock n Roll All Night,” the song responsible for turning the conservative world on its head. If it weren’t rebellious enough to wear six-inch platforms and model lewd facial expressions, Kiss added insult to injury by daring to challenge to concept of a 9-5 time schedule. As if by just staying up late, you too would gain rock star status and cause your parents to lose as much sleep as you. But, as with everything else that’s fun to do, staying up late does come with downsides.

It Starts with Chronotypes
Chronotype is the term researchers use to describe differences in when we prefer to be active. As a whole, we tend toward “morningness” in our early years, move toward “eveningness” in adolescence and then shift back toward “morningness” in later years. A study published in Pediatrics, polled 7th to 12th graders about alertness, sleepiness, planning and task completion. The study found that having the evening chronotype and greater daytime tiredness had a large impact on the child’s behavioral and emotional well being. It also found that the eveningness chronotype was more often associated with risk- taking behaviors, such as drug and alcohol use, and was also associated with health risks, like diabetes and mood disorders.

Can We Change This?
Even though we may have variations in the way our bodily clocks are set, the settings are not inalterable. Studies show that the body’s clock can be affected by its reaction to light and that light therapy and limiting and scheduling exposure to light can be very effective.

How?

Morning Sun
First thing in the morning is the best time to grab you some bright sunlight. Natural light early in the day can reset your circadian rhythm and get you in sync with the movements of the sun.

No Blue Light After Dinner
It may seem to be beyond possible to eliminate all artificial light from your nightly habitat, but studies show that even very brief exposure to blue light in the evening can lead to up to 30 minutes of sleep delay. Exposure to artificial light delays the body’s natural release of melatonin and also limits the supply to the body throughout the night, making us more susceptible to interrupted sleep. What can you do to prevent this without eliminating all activity after 6 pm? Sunglasses with orange lenses effectively filter our blue light, and look really cool as well. Could that be Bono’s secret?

No Electronic Devices After Dinner
A 2014 National Sleep Poll showed that electronic devices account for 50% of sleep disorders. Can’t resist the urge to check for that late night booty call? Use glasses designed to filter blue light or consider downloading apps which are designed to shield against blue light from iPads, computers, and smart phones.

Natural and Bright Light During the Day
If you don’t have the good fortune of working in a brightly lit space, try taking a walk during your lunch break to make sure your body maintains a healthy rhythm and gets some Vitamin D exposure. You can also purchase a blue light device for your office or place of employment.

Although Gene Simmons doesn’t seem to have lost any sleep over the issue, (pun intended) you may want to work on regulating your bodily clock. Let us know if you have made any attempts to do so and what works for you (or doesn’t.) We love to hear from all you insomniacs and otherwise.