Circadian clock can be readjusted – night owls can improve their lives with a simple tweak – Innovita Research

Circadian clock can be readjusted – night owls can improve their lives with a simple tweak

Some people are night owls. They stay up very late and then fail to wake up early. In fact, they don’t even wake up at the time that we consider to be morning. Being a night owl is associated with depression, worse health and even an early death, but there is something you can do. Scientists from the Monash University, University of Birmingham and the University of Surrey found a small tweak that night owls can do to help themselves.

Shifting waking time just by 2 hours make a huge difference in energy, cognitive performance and mental health. Image credit: Santeri Viinamäki via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Researchers asked 23 healthy individuals to participate in the study. They had to wake up 2-3 hours before their usual time and also go to sleep 2-3 hours earlier than normal. They were also asked to eat breakfast immediately after waking up, eat lunch at the same time every day and to keep the same sleeping schedules on their working days as well as days off. This study showed that establishing such a simple routine is relatively easy and it brings a lot of health benefits.

Participants reported an increase in cognitive (reaction time) and physical (grip strength) ability during the morning hours. Usually mornings are the worst for night owls as they are struggling to gather themselves and function properly. But establishing a healthier sleeping routine seemed to have done the trick. Of course, at first it was difficult, but during a period of three weeks  circadian rhythm of ‘night owls’ was shifted without any pharmaceutical intervention. Furthermore, although sleep duration remained the same, people were feeling much better. Among higher energy and productivity, they mentioned decreases feelings of depression and stress, as well as daytime sleepiness. And this tweak is really not that hard to do.

People usually stay up late because they have stuff to finish. If they did all their tasks in the morning, while they are the most productive, this wouldn’t even be an issue. Dr. r Andrew Bagshaw, co-author of the study, said: “Having a late sleep pattern puts you at odds with the standard societal days, which can lead to a range of adverse outcomes – from daytime sleepiness to poorer mental wellbeing”.

Being a night owl is mostly a habit and habits can be changed. You just have to retrain your mind and your body to behave slightly differently. Work more in the morning, eat at the same time and maintain a regular sleeping schedule. It is a simple math – you will be happy you made the shift.


Source: Monash University