What is body clock sleep problems?

Adjusting your body clock if you're a night owl

Some people, no matter what they do, have trouble falling asleep at night and being up early during the day. They are often called "night owls." Their sleep patterns may or may not cause problems for them. It depends on their lifestyle and work or school schedule. If you are a night owl but want to change your sleep schedule, there are things you can try so that you fall asleep earlier and sleep through the night.

  • Have healthy sleep habits.

    Examples of healthy habits include:

    • Get up at the same time each day.
    • Avoid alcohol and drinks with caffeine before bed.
    • Do not smoke or use other types of tobacco near bedtime.
    • Do not nap during the day.
    • Do not read, watch TV, or use your phone in bed.
  • Ask your doctor about taking melatonin.

    You might take melatonin supplements in the evening to help you get to sleep. Your doctor can recommend how much to take and when to take it.

  • Try using light therapy.

    Light therapy means exposing yourself to bright light as soon as you wake up. You can use a bright (10,000 lux) light or a full-spectrum light box for 30 to 45 minutes each day. Ask your doctor for a specific schedule for when to use the light.

  • Try moving your bedtime slowly over time.

    Gradually move your bedtime earlier and earlier. Your body may get used to the change in schedule.

How are body clock problems and sleep problems connected?

Your body's biological clock (circadian rhythms) affects your sleep-wake cycle. Body clock sleep problems have been linked to a hormone called melatonin. It helps your body fall and stay asleep.

Things that may affect melatonin production and can cause sleep problems include:

  • Jet lag from crossing time zones.
  • Changing your sleep schedule, like working at night and sleeping during the day. You may have trouble sleeping during the day and may feel tired at night when you need to be alert for work.
  • Drugs and alcohol. Some drugs cause sleep problems. Drinking alcohol before bed can wake you up later in the night.
  • Staying up very late or getting up very early in the morning. These sleep patterns may or may not cause problems. It depends on each person's lifestyle and work or school schedule.

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