17 Dec Early bird vs Night owl: Who’s doing it right?
Are you a morning early bird or a night owl? Everyone has an internal biological clock that tells them when it is time to sleep. What may surprise you is that not everyone’s biological clock keeps time at the same pace. Some people go to sleep and get up earlier. We call these the early birds. Some people naturally go to sleep later and get up later, earning themselves the nickname “night owls”.
We actually have little say in our sleep preferences a.k.a. our chronotype. It mostly depends on biological factors such as when our bodies naturally beginning producing melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone. In other words, if you’re a night owl, it’s probably because you had an ancestor who was also a night owl.
Much research has shown that night owls tend to live more sedentary lives and are more likely to develop health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and stroke. But when it comes to which one is doing it better, the answer is neither. Being a night owl isn’t in and of itself a bad thing, and the early bird doesn’t always get the worm.
Problems don’t arise from when you fall asleep, it’s how much sleep you get or don’t get. Human adults need an average of 7-9 hours of sleep a night. A night owl may not naturally fall asleep until midnight or later, but they still have to wake up in the morning and go to work. Life, after all, happens between 9 am and 5 pm. Night owls have more health problems not because they are night owls, but because they are sleep deprived.
If you’re a night owl, there are some things you can do to help your body adjust to a 9-5 work schedule. The ideal thing to do would be to find a job that allows you to sleep with your natural preferences, but if that’s unattainable, you’re not powerless.
Exercise. Fighting against a sedentary life is important for night owls due to the health risks associated with obesity. Exercise not only keeps your waistline in check, it also wears you out and makes it easier for you to go to bed early.
Watch your diet. Because night owls are so often sleep deprived, they are more susceptible to emotional eating. Learning to deal with stress and keeping a strict watch on your diet especially your carb intake, can help you avoid many health problems associated with sleep depravity.
Light therapy. It is thought that light affects brain chemicals linked to mood and sleep. Light therapy is used to treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD), depression, jet lag, and some other sleep disorders through the exposure of artificial light. Many people find using a sun spectrum lamp in the morning can help reprogram their natural sleep preferences.
Since night owls are more prone to obesity, it’s logical to assume they’re also more prone to sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a condition in which the upper passages of your airways close up, cutting off your oxygen and stopping your breathing until you wake up and start breathing again. If you are getting 7-9 hours of sleep but you’re still feeling sleep deprived, you could have sleep apnea.
If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, we may be able to fit you with a dental appliance similar to an orthodontic retainer designed to help you breathe better at night. If you’re interested in learning more about how we can help you conquer your sleep apnea, give us a call at 662-823-7900.