Sleep and Your Body Clock - Topic Overview

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Night owl

Some people, no matter what they do, have trouble falling asleep at night and being up early during the day. This may or may not cause problems for them. It depends on their lifestyle and work or school schedule. If you are one of those night owls, there are things you can try so that you fall asleep earlier and sleep through the night.

  • Getting up at the same time every day no matter what time you go to sleep. On the weekends (or on days when you don't have to get up), don't let yourself sleep more than 1 hour longer than you do when you have to get up for work or school. If that doesn't work, you can try the treatments listed below.
  • Light therapy. In this case, light therapy means exposing yourself to bright light as soon as you wake up. You can use sunlight or a bright (10,000 lux) light box for 30 to 45 minutes each day.
  • MelatoninMelatonin. Ask your doctor about taking melatonin supplements in the evening to help you get to sleep.
  • Chronotherapy. For night owls, this method involves creating a 27-hour day. During each sleep-wake cycle, you go to sleep 3 hours later until the time to go to sleep has cycled back around to the time you actually want to go to sleep. After you complete the cycle once, then you would keep going to bed at that desired time. This method can be hard to do because of the way it can disrupt your daily schedule and because you have to keep to a rigid schedule. Here is a sample schedule:
    • Day 1: If you normally go to bed at midnight, you would wait until 3 a.m. to go to sleep.
    • Day 2 and beyond: Go to sleep at 6 a.m., and then keep delaying sleep 3 hours each day until you are going to bed at the time you desire. This will probably take 5 to 7 days.

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