The 9-to-5 hustle and grind can be a drag for anyone, but if your natural sleep schedule trends way later, it's a killer. Night owls often prefer sleeping between about 2:30 and 10:15 a.m. — it's just how their bodies work. Society (and your boss) aren't likely to offer much sympathy, though.
English and Australian researchers think they have a fix, though — at least on an individual level. A perfect solution would be more flexible work options across industries and companies, but until then, one new study shows that night owls can shift their sleep schedules onto a more normative window in just three weeks, without any drugs. Not only that, but the methods also reduced depression, stress, and daytime sleepiness.
According to a press release, this is the system that gets it done:
- Wake up 2-3 hours before regular wake up time and maximize outdoor light during the mornings.
- Go to bed 2-3 hours before habitual bedtime and limit light exposure in the evening.
- Keep sleep/wake times fixed on both work days and free days.
- Have breakfast as soon as possible after waking up, eat lunch at the same time each day, and refrain from eating dinner after 7 p.m.
These are similar to tactics used to combat Daylight Savings Time, and if you're too buzzy to take them on, try making lists to help yourself wind down. Some research has found that a preference for late nights corresponds with higher intelligence. That said, keeping a regular sleep schedule is one of the smartest things you can do for yourself.