Late sleepers can reset their internal body clocks to bounce out of bed earlier with a few practical life hacks — which can indeed make them healthy, wealthy and wise.
In fact, new international research being published in the journal Sleep Medicine found that making four lifestyle changes each day helped subjects stick with an earlier bedtime and wake up routine after just three weeks — and the new early birds reported feeling less depressed and stressed under their new sleep schedule.
The Universities of Birmingham and Surrey in the UK and Monash University in Australia conducted a small, randomized control trial with 22 healthy men and women in their 20s over six weeks. The participants were night owls, defined as individuals whose internal body clocks dictated later-than-usual sleep and wake times: going to bed at 2:30 am on average and rising at 10:15 am.
And the experimental group that adopted the new sleep habits consistently went to bed almost two hours earlier in the evening and rose almost two hours earlier the next morning, without the length or the quality of their sleep suffering.
What’s more, their self-reported feelings of depression and stress “significantly decreased,” according to the report. And rather than being groggy in the mornings, they also reported increased cognitive reaction time and physical performance early in the day and their peak performance times moved up to the afternoon; previously, they peaked at night. They also ate breakfast more often.
More than a third of sleep-deprived American adults are getting less than the recommended seven hours of sleep a night, according to the CDC, which costs the US economy $411 billion a year in lost productivity. And so Americans spent $41 billion on sleep aids in 2015, which is projected to hit $52 billion by next year.
Previous research has suggested that the early bird does indeed get the worm. A survey of 2,000 Americans by OnePoll on behalf of mattress review site Sleepopolis found that those who rose earlier earned more money (although it didn’t specify how much) compared to those who stayed up late.
Early risers in the Sleepopolis survey also had sex more often (three times a week compared to night owls in the survey getting intimate twice a week) and they got an extra hour of sleep each night.Perhaps that’s why they also reported being 10 percent happier.
Getting enough sleep could be more important for losing weight than skipping late-night snacks, according to a recent study published in the online journal BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health.