In Early Birds Versus Night Owls, It’s Best to Get Some Sleep

In Early Birds Versus Night Owls, It’s Best to Get Some Sleep

There may have been a time in your youth when you were a night owl. You stayed out all night, came home at the crack of dawn, slept in, then did it all over again.

Compare this with early birds who wake up easily, sometimes without an alarm. They have productive mornings, with a little lag in the afternoon, but bedtime is just a few hours away. They’re often in bed before 10 p.m. for a solid eight hours of sleep.

Why Are We Like This?

Our chronotype determines whether we’re early birds or night owls. Our chronotype is how our body reacts to the time of day. There are typically three chronotypes: morning, day, and night.

  • Morning people are the early birds. They are awake, operate at peak efficiency in the morning, but usually can’t stay up for the late news.
  • Day people sleep a little later and are most effective in the afternoon.
  • Night owls sleep as late as possible and are up well past nightfall, into the wee hours of the morning.

Our chronotypes change throughout our lives as our body chemistry changes. Babies and young children are typically early risers. Adolescents are more likely day chronotypes. Teens and young adults are definitely night owls, sleeping as late as possible and staying up late. As we grow older, we switch back toward day or morning people.

Rhythm Is Gonna Get You

Alarm Clock and Sunrise

Our reaction to each of day parts is driven by our internal clock or circadian rhythms. A person’s internal clock is usually a 24-hour clock and it’s tied to Earth’s 24-hour cycle of day and night. Some people’s cycle is a little shorter, so they are usually early birds. Some with a longer cycle are the night owls.

Our bodies really want us to follow the natural rhythms of the Earth’s rotation. Wake up when it’s light. Go to bed when it’s dark. Sometimes, for one reason or another, we have to disrupt those rhythms. People with overnight shifts or those who work late hours can have problems adjusting. It can be done, but changes need to be gradual.

Get Moving

Man Against a Fence

There are old sayings about early birds getting worms and “early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” But there are no such sentiments about night owls. That doesn’t mean being a night owl is bad for you, but it takes extra effort to stay healthy when your body wants to sleep in and stay up late.

That’s because night owls may move less than early birds. It has nothing to do with exercise either. According to a recent study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science, early birds move 60 to 90 minutes more a day than night owls. Researchers put activity trackers on 6,000 participants and found the people who got up early moved more. Night owls tended to sit more and move less, even when researchers factored for education and health conditions.

Compounding Conditions

Man in Bed Using Computer at Night

The tendency toward inactivity for night owls can become dangerous for people with conditions like heart disease or diabetes. A study of the chronotypes of patients with type 2 diabetes found night owls were inactive to the point of being unhealthy.

Globally, one in 11 people have diabetes, and that number is only going up along with the number of people who are obese. If your chronotype tends toward the evening, there are some things you should do.

In Your Control

Woman Sleeping in Bed With Light On

Night owls tend to be more active later in the day, so they should consider going for a walk around dinnertime. Do SOMETHING to get moving during the time you feel most energetic.

Night owls and early birds alike need to make sure they’re eating a balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables. Limit the amount of processed food and sugary snacks eaten.

If you want to change your sleeping pattern, do it gradually. Don’t try to go to bed at 10 p.m. if you normally go to sleep at 1 a.m. Move your bedtime up about 30 minutes until you get comfortable with that time. Then move it up another 30 minutes.

We’re Here for You

Cup of Coffee

AltaMed is here with information on how to eat a healthful diet and get more exercise. You can also schedule an appointment with a physician if you have concerns about your sleeping habits. Find a doctor at the following link or make an appointment by calling (888) 499-9303.

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See how AltaMed Health Services can help your family grow healthy.

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Don’t Lose Any More Sleep Over Your Insomnia

As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, many of us had to change our daily routines. All of this uncertainty has pushed people to feel anxious, and simple things like getting the right amount of sleep can become a nightmare.

If you have insomnia, you’re not alone: about 1 in 3 healthy adults suffer from it. Insomnia can wear you out, both mentally and physically. In fact, if you are missing out on quality sleep on a regular basis, you could be setting yourself up for a variety of health issues, including weight gain, increased risk of accidents, irregular heart rhythm, and even a higher risk of diabetes and stroke.

So, what’s causing your insomnia?

We have some tips that can help you go back to a regular sleeping schedule. Read on and don’t lose any more sleep!

Common Causes of Insomnia

Woman with Insomnia

There's a variety of reasons why you might have insomnia and recognizing what’s causing yours is the first step. Even in the best of times, these factors are all too common, and current events have made these feelings more intense for many people.

On a positive note, many of these common causes of insomnia have simple fixes. We’ve grouped them into two categories, which can help you figure out where to go for a solution.

Health-related causes

  • An illness or condition (e.g., asthma or sleep apnea) that may be interrupting your sleep
  • Chronic pain
  • Certain medications, including common medications for depression, ADHD, and Parkinson’s disease
  • Menopause

For health and medication-related issues, work with your doctor to learn if there are solutions that can help you.

Lifestyle-related causes

  • Alcohol consumption
  • Smoking or vaping
  • Poor or unbalanced diet
  • Too much caffeine through the day
  • Uncontrolled stress levels
  • Poor sleep hygiene (not going to bed at the same time every night, having a noisy bedroom, checking your cell phone in bed, being too hot or too cold)

If you believe your lifestyle or your environment could be to blame for your insomnia, keep reading to learn what to do to get back to sleep.

Getting Back to Sleep

Young Woman Sleeping

Before you go to bed tonight, try at least one or two of these tips. They’re all great additions to a healthy lifestyle!

  • Create a comfortable sleep environment: make sure your room is relaxing, quiet, and comfortable. Small things like temperature can affect your sleep, so it’s best if your room is not too hot or cold.
  • No more screens: stop using electronics an hour before going to bed. The blue light from devices such as a phone, tablet, or TV can keep you active and disrupt your sleep.
  • Manage your stress: try not to engage in difficult conversations or work right before going to bed. If you find yourself frequently stressed out during the day, trying meditation techniques, deep breathing, or yoga to help you relax and make it easier for you to sleep.
  • No more naps: it can be tempting to take a short nap, especially if you are working from home, but taking a nap during the day can make it difficult to go to sleep at night.
  • Keep yourself on a schedule: because of COVID-19, many of us had to change our home schedules radically, and sometimes it’s tempting to sleep late or go to bed at different hours. Try to keep yourself on a routine that supports your biological clock. Wake up at the same hour every morning and go to sleep at a specific time as well.
  • Don’t drink or have a huge meal before bedtime: having a late dinner before going to bed is going to activate your digestive system. Certain foods can cause reflux and heartburn that could keep you up all night. When it comes to drinks, having lots of fluids before bedtime can make you go to the bathroom during the night, interrupting your sleep.
  • Stay active: regular workouts can improve the quality of your sleep. However, working out too close to bedtime can get your heart racing, so plan your physical activities for at least four hours before going to bed.

We hope these simple suggestions help you recover your good night’s sleep. If you think your insomnia may be a symptom of another condition, talk to a doctor. AltaMed is open, and we are also offering telehealth visits, by phone or video, to help keep you safe and healthy at home. Call us at (888) 499-9303 to make an appointment.

AltaMed can provide information to you and your family about the best way to protect yourself and your family from COVID-19. To receive the latest news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, sign up today.

Establishing Routine

Why Having a Routine During Quarantine is So Important

It finally looks like we may be seeing some light at the end of the tunnel regarding COVID-19 lockdowns. So many of us have been sheltering at home, some of us without jobs, others trying to help our kids learn at a distance, all of us wishing for positive news giving us a date for when things will be back to normal.

Even though there are reasons to be optimistic, we are still a long way from our lives returning to the way things were before COVID-19. Coming up with a routine or a regular schedule for your life is more important than ever. It can help you and your family deal with uncertainty and put you in the best position for whatever comes next.

Why Have a Routine?

Woman Making Breakfast

Humans are naturally hard-wired to crave stability and dependability. Our brains and our bodies perform better if we can follow a regular schedule. At first, it may feel fun or relaxing to have a lot of free time that you can use however you want – especially if you have a job you can no longer go to and other responsibilities that have shifted.

However, the decisions you make about how to spend your time cause stress. Do I go to the market or wait another day? What time should I wake up the kids? Should I look for jobs online, or should I watch TV? When should I start cooking dinner?

Without a routine, during a single day, you could be making hundreds of decisions, and the stress and anxiety will add up. Building a routine can take this pressure off and sticking to a routine can help boost your self-confidence.

What are Other Benefits of Having a Routine?

Post-it Notes in the Shape of Vignettes

Having a routine can help you become more efficient. Say, for example, you need to look for a job, but you only give yourself a few minutes, here and there. You will probably spend a lot of time online, searching your computer for resumes and other important documents, and not get that much work done. But if you make it a habit and start a routine – such as spending two hours Monday, Wednesday, and Friday – you will get into a rhythm that will make your time more productive. This is true for almost anything, whether it’s work, school, cleaning around the house, or even working out.

Following a routine or schedule every day could also help you get a better night’s sleep!

Who Needs a Routine?

Child Showing His Teeth to His Mother

Everyone in your household can benefit from having a schedule – especially children. In many ways, the COVID-19 pandemic has uprooted their lives the most, taking them away from school, their friends, and all the social interactions that stimulate their young brains. There are signs that many children may already be suffering from anxiety and depression.

The truth is, this has been hard on all of us. You don’t have to create a perfect routine that mirrors how life was before but work with your family to create structure for everyone.

How Do You Make a Routine?

Woman Exercising

Start out by writing out all the things you need and want to get done, then list them by priority or urgency. The key is to stay busy, yet still have time for meals and personal care.

If you still feel like you don’t have a lot to do, then, look at what you can break down. For example, if one of your items is “cook a healthy dinner,” then you also might need to add “go to the store,” “search online for good recipes,” and “wash and dice the vegetables.” Breaking big to-do items into smaller tasks will help you fill out your day.

Throughout your day, it may help to include things that you used to do regularly. No, you don’t have to get dressed up, but a small thing – for example, putting on earrings or lipstick can help. If you always went on coffee break at 10:30 a.m., you can still have a cup at 10:30 – it will help you feel more normal.

One of the ways you can help create a sense of stability is to create dedicated areas for certain activities. Identify a space in your house for working, create a pleasing environment with all the things you’ll need, and then only work there. Do the same for exercise, family time, leisure, and self-care.

However, you should be realistic about what you can get done. If you try to do too much and miss the mark, you may get discouraged and then give up.

And, just like there are great apps to help you live a healthier life, there are many free apps you can use to start and stick to a routine. More than 20 million people use Todoist, a free app that’s available for both Apple and Android. And Habitica is great for children (and those who are young at heart).It takes a game-like approach to setting goals and rewarding good behavior.

When Should a Routine Go into Effect?

Woman Opening the Curtains

Right now! You can start by creating routines for a few days a week, or even for an entire month.

Don’t feel too bad if you go off your schedule. You can try again tomorrow. The point of a routine is to make your life better.

Don’t Ignore Your Health Routines

AltaMed is open to serve you in any way we can, and we don’t want you to forget about your family’s health routines. Children’s vaccinations are more important than ever, and we have taken steps to protect you and your family’s health so it’s safe to bring your kids in. We are also offering online and over-the-phone doctor visits so you can continue to get the care you need. Call us and make an appointment today!

AltaMed can provide information to you and your family about the best way to protect yourself and your family from COVID-19. To receive the latest news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, sign up today.

In Early Birds Versus Night Owls, It’s Best to Get Some Sleep