If you consider yourself a night owl, you are not alone. Studies show that up to 20% of people enjoy staying up late and for many, these tendencies have genetic roots.
Those who consider themselves night owls prefer going to bed in the early hours of the morning and waking up late morning (or even early afternoon given the chance).
Normally these habits are seen in teenagers due to the hormones produced at this time, but further genetic research has found that there are early and late genotypes related to our body clock. If you are a genetic night owl, chances are you’ll find it difficult to change your habits.
Regardless of what time you do make it to bed, you’ll still need to get good quality sleep. Below are some tips to help you achieve this.
Make sure you’re getting the right number of hours
An obvious tip to start with, but an important one nonetheless. If you are going to bed late and waking up early, over time your health will begin to suffer. Of course, going to bed earlier would counteract this – but if you are unwilling to change your bedtime there are other options. If possible, try to negotiate flexible working hours so you can start later, if this isn’t possible try to schedule in a nap later in the day so you can catch up on your rest.
Keep a regular schedule
Night owls do tend to have irregular sleeping hours, but studies show that maintaining regular sleep and wake times is beneficial to our bodies. Start by noting down what time you have to wake up in the morning and count eight hours back from this, bearing in mind that you’ll need time to wind down before going to sleep. Try not to deviate from this schedule at the weekends by no more than one hour.
Learn how to wind down
Those who go to bed later are more prone to sleep disorders like insomnia, so it’s important to learn how to relax and unwind before going to bed. If you find it hard to switch off, learn some relaxation techniques like visualisation, deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation.
Keep your bedroom sleep-friendly
As a night owl, you’re probably used to working, watching TV, browsing the Internet etc. all in your bedroom. Try to get out of this habit and, when you are burning the midnight oil, do it in a different room. Keep your bedroom for sleeping only and ensure it is cool, dark and comfortable.
Remember why sleep is important
It is easy to think that work, socialising and other activities are all more important than sleep, but getting enough rest is imperative for your physical and mental well-being. Fatigue can lead to you feeling more anxious, impair your decision making abilities and over time can increase your risk of heart disease, diabetes and obesity.