每日跟讀#686: Study: Three weeks for night owls to change their routines
Many people have irregular daily routines, or are night owls who go to bed late and get up late, causing them to perform poorly at work or in class during the daytime. According to a study published in Sleep Medicine Research last month, the use of interventions to adjust people’s sleep routines and correct their displaced sleep schedule required a period of three weeks.
The study included 22 young people aged between 18 and 24 years old, the participants being “night owls” that would usually go to sleep around 02:30am and get up at around 10:30am.
The participants were randomly divided into a test group and a control group. For three weeks, those in the test group were asked to modify their routines, including the time they got up and went to bed, their diet and their exercise. This included waking up two or three hours earlier than they would normally do, exercising outdoors in plenty of sunshine as much as possible, eating breakfast as soon as they got up and eating meals at regular times. It also meant not drinking caffeinated drinks after 3pm, eating their evening meal before 7pm and, for those who did exercise, to shift their exercise time to the morning. They were also asked to go to bed two to three hours earlier than they were used to and to reduce their exposure to light in the evening.
The only stipulation placed on those in the control group was that they eat lunch at set times every day.
The findings showed that establishing simple routines could help night owls adjust their biological clock and improve their overall physical and mental health. They also experienced reduced levels of depression and stress and would feel less drowsy during the day.
The study findings were consistent with past research, that sleep in humans was affected by the biological clock, and that the biological clock was tied to sunlight.
Therefore, if you want to get your routine back into order you should start with your exposure to sunlight: try going to bed an hour earlier, go out and eat breakfast in the morning, avoid lying down on the bed during the daytime, and exercise more outdoors in the sunshine. If you really feel the need to sleep, do your best to restrict it to a half hour lunchtime nap, and don’t eat too much for dinner. If you continue in this way for 3 to 5 days according to your requirements, your body clock will gradually return to a more normal routine.