A poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation gives us insight into why early to bed, early to rise is so beneficial. 27% of the respondents to the survey were categorized by the foundation as Healthy, Lively Larks. Members of this group were the least likely to have problems sleeping and, therefore, were the most likely to enjoy a good night’s sleep. They were morning people who began their day early. They fell asleep quickly without the use of sleep aids and were least likely, of all those who responded, to have any medical conditions. Of all the respondents, they were the most likely to say that during their wake time they never or rarely felt tired, fatigued or not up to par (73% compared to 49% overall). Compared to the average sleeper, Healthy, Lively Larks are much less likely to have missed work or events and/or made errors at work at least once in the past three months because of being too sleepy (16% compared to 28% overall).
God made us all the same in many ways. How and when we should sleep for maximum benefit seems to be one of these. There is no scientifically valid basis for the idea that we were each made differently and naturally fall into the sleep pattern that is healthiest for us. Many years of research and hundreds of well-conducted studies show that our bodies were all created to live by the same sleep habits. For example, all humans are hardwired to go to sleep when it gets dark. That’s how we can maximize our health. We develop sleeping patterns because of environmental circumstances and habits that turn into conditioned responses and, over the years, these habits can become very ingrained in our lives. Night Owls are hurting their bodies, no matter how comfortable they are with staying up late.
The good news is that becoming a morning person is achievable for anybody and the rewards for doing so are tremendous. You might be tempted to say, “I’ve tried to go to bed early but I can’t change. I’m just a night person.” Sleep habits can become firmly ingrained over a lifetime and thus, as with any long-standing habit, will need intelligent and determined effort to change. But, rest assured — you can do it!
If you see the negative effects of being a Night Owl and the benefits of obeying your body’s natural rhythms, start working on adjusting your sleep patterns. Start slowly. Don’t try going from getting up at 8:30 or later every morning to getting up at 5:30 all at once. Likewise, don’t try going to bed at 9:30 in the evening if your usual bedtime is 12:30 or later. Make small but incremental changes, gradually, over a period of weeks or months, and you will eventually become accustomed to your new schedule. Most importantly, be consistent. Make a plan and stick to it.