Do you identify as a night owl?
According to my Google search, a night owl is “a person who is habitually active or wakeful at night.” Someone who “keeps late hours at night” or who “tends to stay up late into the night.”
This has been me for most of my life. Ha!
I felt like I got a second wind at night and that I was more focused and productive.
More recently, though, while reading a book called, “Change Your Schedule, Change Your Life,” I have learned about what is actually happening for the majority of us who identify as night owls. And, as this is something I wish I would have know even as far back as high school…it’s worthy of it’s own blog post. Especially because it has helped me deepen my own compelling reason for changing to an earlier sleep time.
This book recommends getting to sleep by 10:30 PM, because this is the time when our bodies are naturally a little bit heavy and sleepy. Our bodies start preparing for sleep between 6 and 10 PM, as the sun goes down. Our digestive tract slows down, and our energy becomes more steady. It can be easy to overwork our minds during this time and make it impossible to sleep later.
After 10:30, we are likely to feel more hungry and awake. “Ten PM to 2 AM is predominated by pitta energy. The body is certainly on fire, but in a very different way than it was during the day. Now, the brain wants to generate even deeper sleep cycles in an effort to rest and cleanse itself.”
“If you go to sleep early in this cycle, you can get that pitta energy working for your body. But many people stay awake working until midnight or later. They say they get a second wind, and feel suddenly more alert after 10:30 PM. They don’t know why, but I know it’s that they like to ride that pitta wave.”
“Staying awake late at night doesn’t mean you are a natural night owl. It just means that the urge to sleep is a little bit like a train. It pulls in and then leaves the station at a predictable time. Many so-called night owls would cure themselves of insomnia (as well as many other health problems) if they would just get on the train by 10:30 PM. If you do this, your body will thank you in countless ways.”
The book also talks about how we need at least three REM and non-REM cycles of sleep per night, but that four or five is better. It talks about how when we stay up late, we are getting a late start on this important brain activity, and it is likely that we then end up hitting our deepest and most restorative levels of sleep when the alarm goes off in the morning.
“You’ll know that you are doing this if your alarm goes off and you wake up feeling groggy and disoriented. You may think it’s because you are not a morning person, but really it’s because you’ve cheated your brain and body out of the restorative sleep it needs.”
“Everything you do all day is either helping the master circadian clock to synchronize the body’s functions, or it’s getting in the way. Setting a daily schedule that reinforces your body’s natural rhythm is the most powerful health habit you can adopt. Getting to bed at the right time is the best way to take advantage of sleep’s essential benefits.”
My take-aways to date?
Me identifying as a night owl all those years wasn’t what I thought it was. And it was just that: an identity.
Over the past several months I’ve been working on that 10:30 PM bedtime, and I can personally attest, as a former “night owl,” that going to bed earlier feels a million times better.
I’ve still got work to do on sleep…but I’m no longer identifying as a night owl…nor do I want to. 😉