Our internal clock is tied to the regulation of hormones, the digestive tract, and even our brain activity.
This system is sensitive to light, which provides an external cue that signals to our body whether it’s day or night.
During the day, light tells us to produce hormones that cause us to feel alert.
In the absence of light, melatonin rises. This hormone promotes sleep, helping us wind down and restore our bodies and minds.
Some research indicatesthat circadian rhythm is even tied to immune system health, DNA repair, and other biological processes like blood sugar management and metabolism.
Sunlight exposure is vital for these processes to function as intended. Artificial light sources like blue light emitted from cell phones and electronics disrupt this rhythm, leading to sleep disorders.
If you want to become the early bird you’ve always wanted to be, limiting artificial light sources and exposing yourself to sunlight are great places to start.
Here Comes the Sun: The Night Owl Becomes the Early Bird
Although the preference for being more active at night could be genetic or situational, there are some substantial lifestyle changes that can help you become the early bird you’ve always dreamed of being.
Furthermore, making these changes could help to improve your sleep quality, cure your insomnia, improve your health, and increase your productivity.
Slowly shifting your sleep schedule by 30 minutes each night can help you move up your sleep cycle to a desired “early riser” time slot.
However, shifting your sleep schedule doesn’t necessarily ensure that you’re sleeping for the proper duration or that your sleep is restorative.
Exposure to sunlight in the morning can help to change the body’s rhythm by signaling that it’s daytime, enforcing the strongest cue for your internal clock.
Moreover, avoiding artificial light sources that block melatonin production at least two hours before bed can help reinforce your circadian rhythm.
That means putting down your cell phone or tablet, turning off your television, and seeking out ambient light from dim sources rather than bright ones.
Blue light blocking glasses may filter out this light and reduce eye strain (as well as certain “night shift” modes on electronics) but more research is needed.
Daily exercise can also help you make the switch from night owl to early bird, but avoid strenuous exercise late in the day. This can have the opposite effect, stimulating you to feel awake rather than restful.
Exercise in the early morning hours, however, helps to support your internal clock and become the early bird you’ve always wanted to be.
Stimulants like caffeine are also known to throw our internal clock out of whack, so avoiding caffeine after noon can also help you shift to an earlier schedule.
What’s more, you should keep naps to a minimum. Take short naps early in the afternoon, if at all. Late or lengthy naps push back your bedtime, worsening your night owl problem.
Achieving more restful sleep during the night can help you diminish your need to nap.
By cutting out disruptions like mouth breathing and snoring, you’ll sleep more soundly than ever before.