How to get a good night's sleep, even if you're a night owl

How to get a good night's sleep

Would you consider yourself a ‘night owl’? If you find yourself staying up late at night, these simple changes could help to alter your body clock.

We’ve all heard of ‘early birds’ and ‘night owls, and most of the population considers themselves one of these. As the names suggest, the former wake up early but struggle to stay awake in evenings whereas the latter are the exact opposite. But certain sleep tricks can help us to alter our sleeping patterns.

Scientists from the UK and Australia studied 21 ‘extreme’ night owls who were going to bed at around 02:30 and not waking until after 10:00. This is what they found...

How to get more sleep, if you're a night owl...

Participants were instructed to do a number of things in order to adjust their body clock. This included waking up 2-3 hours earlier, and going to bed 2-3 hours earlier, making sure they got plenty of light in the mornings.

They also ate breakfast as soon as possible, only exercised in the morning, ate lunch at the same time each day, banished caffeine after 3pm, and stopped napping after 4pm.

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How to get a good night's sleep

Interestingly, participants were told to eat nothing after 7pm, which is bad news for those of you who usually have late dinners or like a quick snack before bed.

After three weeks of following these rules, they had successfully shifted their body clocks two hours earlier in the day, according to analysis by the University of Birmingham, Monash University, and the University of Surrey.

The results showed that participants still got the same hours of sleep, but they reported lower levels of sleepiness, stress and depression. Reaction times had also improved, so the benefits were clear.

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"Establishing simple routines could help night owls adjust their body clocks and improve their overall physical and mental health” The University of Surrey’s Professor Debra Skene said.

"Insufficient levels of sleep and circadian [body clock] misalignment can disrupt many bodily processes, putting us at increased risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes."

Establishing healthy sleep patterns is important for both your mental and physical health, so if you are struggling to sleep at a sensible time, why not see if these sleep tricks can help?