Night owls can ‘retrain’ to improve their mental well-being

According to a new study, people with extreme late sleeping and waking habits can make a simple tweak to their  sleeping patterns resulting in a decrease in depression and stress.

Research by the Universities of Birmingham and Surrey in the UK, and Monash University in Australia, says it is possible to shift the circadian rhythm of ‘night owls’ using non-pharmacological and practical interventions in just three weeks.

Recently published in Sleep Medicine, the study showed participants were able to bring forward their sleep/wake timings by two hours, while having no negative effect on sleep duration. In addition, participants reported a decrease in feelings of depression and stress, as well as in daytime sleepiness.

“Our research findings highlight the ability of a simple non-pharmacological intervention to phase advance ‘night owls’, reduce negative elements of mental health and sleepiness, as well as manipulate peak performance times in the real world,” lead researcher Dr Elise Facer-Childs from Monash University’s Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health said.

For a period of three weeks participants in the experimental group were asked to:

  • Wake up 2-3 hours before regular wake up time and maximise outdoor light during the mornings.
  • Go to bed 2-3 hours before habitual bedtime and limit light exposure in the evening.
  • Keep sleep/wake times fixed on both work days and free days.

Read our article on Sleep Deprivation and Stress

For more information on the study quoted visit:

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  • Have breakfast as soon as possible after waking up, eat lunch at the same time each day, and refrain from eating dinner after 7pm.

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