Alaska Sleep Education Center

Night Owls: How To Change Your Sleeping Habits

Posted by Cheryl Hearts on May 9, 2020 9:38:00 AM


Night owls are people who stay up deep into the night and sleep till it is afternoon. 

It is hard to be a night owl nowadays. Even though there is a lot of possibilities for remote workers with a flexible schedule, society still lives by the rhythm of the morning larks. It means that normal working day or day at school/college starts normally at 7-9 in the morning. It is hardly manageable to wake up this early for people who go to bed at two or three in the morning. Night owls often suffer from lack of sleep.

Consequently, night owls tend to be sleepy, less concentrated, less productive. They do not show great results in the morning, reaction time is higher, they are physically weaker. While society is getting more demanding every day, the low performance of night owls can get in the way of getting an education, building a career, comfortable living. 

Since the biological clock of night owls and social clocks are completely different, it may also cause health problems. The study shows that night owls have a bigger risk of early death. They are also likely to gain more weight, have diabetes, and even neurological disorders.

Therefore, night owls sooner or later understand that living in the morning larks society is impossible (which is pretty unfair though). No matter if you want to improve your performance in the morning for a career, or you want to take care of your health, turning into a morning lark is possible. 

It will require some effort, however, but it is worth it. We prepared a guide on how to change your sleeping habits if you are a night owl. 

Start Slowly

It is not the best idea to suddenly start to wake up at 6 in the morning after you have been practicing opening your eyes not earlier than 10 all your life. It is too stressful for your body. So try to wake up an hour earlier every day. If an hour seems too much, try fifteen minutes. The main rule in your new routine is not to commit violence to yourself. 

Goodbye Snooze

It happens a lot that night owls put an alarm on 9 in the morning, but they hit snooze too often and end up waking up as usual. Moreover, it messes up with your dream sleep (the anxious blurry business man starring at the clockone that is responsible for cognition) and you, in fact, do not get any more sleep like that. At least, not the one that brings you rest and energy. It also means that you are not getting enough sleep. Try to go back to our first advice and sleep for seven or eight hours.  

Light is Your Savior

And your enemy at the same time. Everything depends on what light we are talking about. If it is about daylight, this one helps you to wake up in the morning by giving signals to your body that it is time to. Natural light suppresses the production of melatonin that also prevents you from numerous alarms. So it makes sense to keep your blinds or curtains open in the night.

When it comes to blue light that is produced by phones, laptops, and TVs, it is advised to keep them away an hour before going to bed. That tip usually gets ignored but blue lights suppress the production of melatonin as well. If you feel tired but you can not actually fall asleep, blue lights are to blame.

So what are you supposed to do before going to bed? 

  • Read:  It calms you down and reduces the stress level by 68%.
  • Meditate: Before going to bed, people think about their day or the future, which can keep them for a long time due to stress. Meditation is an ability to go through your thoughts but let them go shortly after. Journaling helps here as well.
  • Get ready for tomorrow: Choose clothes that you are going to wear or the breakfast that you will cook. Getting the small things prepared makes mornings less stressful.


Create a Reward System

Sometimes we lack motivation. Night owls who are on the way of becoming morning larks suffer from this problem the most since the process is not as fast as they want it to be and they can feel not their best after waking up so early. That is why treating yourself is important. Show yourself some kindness by going to a nice restaurant after a week of morning streaks, buying self-care products or creating a quality me-time on weekend with candles, good films, or old photos.


Do Not Sleep Till Afternoon on Weekends

A lot of night owls feel lack of sleep, especially in the first week, after they have started their way of turning into morning larks. So it seems that additional hours of sleep on the weekends is a great opportunity to treat yourself and to get all the night hours you have missed out during the week. 

It is utterly wrong though. Before starting the journey of changing your biological clock, you have to understand that it is a 24 pro 7 process. You have to keep up with the new regime every day, no matter if there are holidays, weekends, or a bad day. This strict rule will make the new lifestyle easier for you in the long run. 

If you oversleep during the weekend, you can lose the progress and it is going to be hard to wake up the next morning as if it is the first day again. This situation will not gain you any motivation to continue your change into the morning lark, and you will give up pretty fast.

As you see, waking up early on the weekends will prevent you from many problems.

No Naps

You may feel very sleepy throughout the day after you have just started your way into the world of morning people. It is totally understandable but we want to prevent you from that. If you sleep during the day, it means that you will have too much energy at night. Consequently, you will be not able to go to bed early and you will wake up the next morning tired and sleepy again. Then you will need another nap, and it starts all over again. It is easy to get trapped in this vicious cycle. 

Try to avoid napping with all you have got. Do not work in bed, do not lie down after a hearty lunch, keep yourself entertained. It will be hard for a day or two but will definitely get better later.

Changing your sleeping habits as a night owl and becoming a morning person requires strong motivation, effort, and time. We believe, however, that every one of you can do this. Believe in yourself too!

Stay home and enjoy the morning! 

Some negative health effects of night owls can include: higher blood pressure, weight gain, and diabetes. Some side effects of sleeping late into the night while still maintaining early rising hours can affect your driving in the morning as you are more sleepy.

It can create behavior affects such as depression or an increase an alcoholic or tobacco use.

One study shifted night owls to a more routine sleep schedule with consistent wake up and bed times along with eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner consistently.

“The results showed an increase in cognitive (reaction time) and physical (grip strength) performance during the morning, while peak performance times shifted from evening to afternoon.”

early birds

Before starting to make the shift to the early bird life, give yourself plenty of grace. If you are an extreme night owl going to bed at 3 a.m., do not set yourself up for failure changing your alarm to 6 a.m.

If you have flexibility in your schedule, pick a goal then slowly attain it by setting the alarm back a bit every few days to your new time. Same for the evening. Eat before 7 p.m., socialize at lunch with friends versus late night hangouts, record your favorite television shows instead of staying up to watch them all.

Both will equal a slow transition making the change more successful.

To help naturally reset your internal sleep cycle, Reader's Digest gives a top 10 list:

  1. Understand your body's chemistry
  2. Create a sleep routine and stick to it
  3. Don't compare new and old time zones
  4. Lighten up your days
  5. Exercise
  6. Unwind for bed peacefully
  7. Limit stimulants (i.e. coffee)
  8. Don't be a clock-watcher
  9. Put away your devices
  10. Make mornings brighter

For those who cannot resist the nights, you can find solace in "The Night Owl Society." Created by illustrative designer Von Glitschka, the society shares "Our nocturnal tribe soars at midnight. We are the night owls -– whose pixels, presses, polygons and projects flourish best under obsidian skies." Membership and induction receives an invitation to the society's social media pages and a "Night Owl Creative Pack."

With the shift in sleep schedules, you may be more prone to sleep disorders like insomnia. To discover if there are underlying causes to your lack of sleep, contact the Alaska Sleep Education Center for a free 10 minute phone consultation.

If you live in the state of Alaska, our board-certified sleep specialists can even make a Home Sleep Test work for you by calling Alaska Sleep Clinic @ 907-770-9104.

Home Sleep Testing Flyer


Author’s Bio: Cheryl Hearts is a passionate journalist from Boston, Massachusetts. She decided to dedicate her life to writing because she thinks this way she can be the most useful for the community. After obtaining a Master's degree in Journalism, Cheryl started running her own blog where she’s covering topics of great interest to society.

Topics: circadian rhythm, delayed sleep phase, sleep health

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