Let’s face it—sleep is important not just for your success, but also for your health. Sleep deprivation can have some seriously scary effects on your body and mind, and staying up well past your bedtime isn’t always worth it. If you’re considering changing your nocturnal ways, these 5 compelling facts might just help you make up your mind.
Your internal clock is designed to rise early.
About half of our sleep pattern is determined by the genetic makeup of your circadian rhythms, according to Dr. Nathaniel Watson, co-director of the University of Washington Medicine Sleep Centre. No matter how much you like staying up well into the night, it’s hard to argue with your body chemistry.
The light of the morning is a natural wake-up call.
Dr. Watson says that light is more powerful than medication, and sunlight works like a cup of coffee. To wake yourself up, expose yourself to light first thing in the morning—this natural alarm clock can be achieved simply by leaving your window shades open, and allowing the morning sunshine to rouse you awake. If you live somewhere that’s usually dark in the morning, you can buy a dawn simulator—a light that gradually grows brighter over a 20 to 30 minute period of time.
Darkness begets sleep.
Just like sunlight signals your body to wake, darkness signals your body to sleep. Darkness triggers the release of melatonin in your body, a chemical that helps you drift off to sleep. But things like the blue light emitted by your smartphone and tablet interrupts this natural process, which can make going to sleep harder.
For great sleep, routine is everything.
A good sleep routine is important for everyone, but if you’re trying to change your sleep pattern, a good routine is a must. That means going to bed early and waking early, too. When you change your schedule on the weekend, it’s called social “jetlag”, and can have a big impact on the quality of your sleep during the week.
There really is a “perfect” time for sleep—and it doesn’t include staying up past midnight.
Sleep Expert Dr. Kenneth Pang, who specializes in sleep disorders, says that just about everyone sleeps best between 11pm and 7am. For night owls, that means a little bit of extra time to catch your favorite late night shows before hitting the sack.