How to Thrive as a Night Owl

November 7th, 2016  /   Articles

It can be hard to be a night owl. Often times your family is heading to bed at a normal hour, while you are still wide awake with no plans of going to sleep anytime soon. If you’re not ready to part ways with your night owl status, there are still ways to get a great night’s sleep. Read on to find out if you’re a night owl, and some tips on getting quality rest.

Are You a Night Owl?

Partially driven by genetics, your tendency to be active in the morning or evening will have a big impact on when you are most alert, productive, and creative, and on how you (and your significant other) sleep. You’ve heard the saying “the early bird gets the worm”. Well, the way you sleep has actually been broken down into bird terminology. Each bird relates to a different chronotype, which signifies a propensity for daytime or nighttime activity.

If you’re an owl (or night owl), you tend to enjoy sleeping in, are more active in the late afternoon, and find that you can be productive working late into the night. A lark (or early bird) can often spring out of bed with or without an alarm clock, are more active in the morning, and hop in bed relatively early each night. If you’re a hummingbird, you fit somewhere in between and can have tendencies in either direction without being a full-fledged owl or lark. Like most things, these tendencies are not black and white, but more like a scale. A minority of people fall to one or the other extreme—they are either larks or owls—while most people fall somewhere in the middle as hummingbirds.

Get Better Sleep as a Night Owl

For years, you may have functioned on less sleep, averaging anywhere from 4 to 6 hours a night, or have had to set four alarm clocks to wake up each morning. If you have the choice, try for a better way. Not getting enough sleep can accumulate a sleep debt that can be hard to repay. The importance of getting regular and sufficient amounts of sleep can be beneficial to your health and longevity.

If you’re looking for a way to get better sleep despite being a night owl, try making more time for sleep by following these tips.

  • Try streamlining your morning routine so you can sleep in as long as possible.
  • Do your best to make sleep sacred by following a pre-bedtime routine.
  • Get some sunshine first thing in the morning and throughout the day, and limit electronic use and artificial light before bedtime to help keep your circadian rhythm in balance, and keep you on a healthy sleep-wake cycle.
  • Stick to a regular sleep schedule. Work backward by at least eight hours from the time you need to wake up and set a reminder to start shutting down and getting ready for bed at that time.

Where do you fall? Are you a night owl or an early riser? By making simple changes to your sleep habits, you can help improve your performance and learn to thrive as a creature of the night.

“The Ideal Bedtime for your Chronotype,”
Lippincott, B. “Owls and larks in hypnosis: individual difference in hypnotic susceptibility relating to biological rhythms,” National Center for Biotechnology Information/