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Get Some Sleep: Are you a night owl? Here's why
November 30th, 2010
01:41 PM ET

Get Some Sleep: Are you a night owl? Here's why

I hear the floorboards creak, the toilet flush, first one shoe drop to the floor, then the other.  My husband pulls back the covers and climbs into bed, disturbing the dog, who now spins around rattling her tags looking for a new, cozy den.  I groan and turn over to look at the clock:  3 a.m., an early night for him.  You see, my husband is what many people call a "night owl," but really he suffers from a circadian rhythm sleep disorder called delayed sleep phase disorder.

Circadian rhythm means a 24-hour cycle.  Humans have a 24-hour sleep/wake cycle that is linked to the 24-hour cycle of the sun.  So, in the optimal situation, we rise in the morning and after about 16 hours of wakefulness we are sleepy and we go to bed and sleep for eight hours.  In my last blog, I talked about shift work disorder and how shift workers are not able, because of their jobs, to flow with this natural rhythm.

People with delayed sleep phase disorder also get out of sync with what we would consider normal bed times (10 p.m. to midnight), but for unknown reasons. The exact prevalence in the general population is unknown, but it is estimated to affect 7 percent to 16 percent of teens and young adults.

Delayed sleep phase disorder usually begins in adolescence or early adulthood.  Sleep onset is delayed at least two hours from social norms, and these altered sleep/wake times can impair the work, academic and social parts of sufferers' lives. People with DSPD often complain of insomnia because they try to go to sleep at a normal time but their internal rhythm is set to a later time and sleep is usually impossible until very late.  Then, if they have to get up for work or school, they are very tired and sleepy in the daytime and are not functioning at their highest capabilities. Often, they will steal a nap, but that only sets them up for further delay in their bedtime.

Usually the patients who show up at the sleep center are teens who are brought in by their mothers because they can't get up and make it to their early morning classes.  Their grades are failing and the school is threatening to expel them.  How do I help them?  Well, I must return to my near-constant theme:  Light.

We get them on a schedule where we slowly move up their bedtimes - just 15-30 minutes each time over a series of weeks. With each change in bedtime, they are instructed to be sure to avoid bright light two hours before the desired bedtime.  We often need to use glasses that filter the blue light because it is not realistic to think that teenagers are not going to be on the computer or using some electronic device.  I also have them get outside and get some bright light in the mornings.  Where I am in Chicago, for much of the year we recommend that such patients use light boxes in the morning. I recommend the ones made by Lite Book because they use LED technology, which means they are smaller and patients  need to spend only 15-30 minutes in front of the unit.

We also use melatonin, but not as a sleep aid.  Instead, we use it to alter people's circadian rhythm, and therefore, we give it 5-7 hours before desired bedtime and we use small doses (0.5-1.0 mg).  And I always recommend that they try this at home the first few times in case it makes them sleepy right away.

I would like to caution that although this general principle of bright light in the morning and dim light before bedtime is easy enough to understand, it is also easy to apply the principle incorrectly and actually make matters worse.  For example, a well-meaning mother of a 16-year-old reads this and tomorrow morning hauls her son out of bed at 6:30 a.m. to get him to his first AP class.  The next night, to her dismay, he stays up even later, and getting him up the following morning would require inviting the marching band to hold practice in his bedroom.

What has gone wrong?  Well, when mom got him up at 6:30 a.m., he had only had 4½ hours of sleep and his core body temperature had not reached its low point.  When his eyes received bright light before the lowest drop in core body temperature, then the internal clock in the brain was being reset to a later time and actually delaying the sleep onset for the next night. Many times we have to wait until a vacation to try to reset someone's clock.  Most times, the help of a sleep physician is essential, and always, the patients themselves have to want to change their schedule.

Another word of caution: It is easy to confuse this disorder with insomnia, but just giving the young person a sleeping pill doesn't usually work to reset the internal clock.

Why do some teens have these dramatic shifts in sleep onset and not others?  This can run in families and changes in one of the circadian clock genes have been associated with this disorder but we cannot yet point to a specific genetic mutation that causes this problem. Delayed sleep phase can be associated with depressive symptoms but the good news is:  Many will naturally outgrow it, especially when the responsibilities of adult life force them into becoming morning people.  Some, like my husband, will return to their nocturnal ways every chance they get.

Lisa Shives, M.D., is the founder of Northshore Sleep Medicine in Evanston, Illinois. She’ll blog on Tuesdays on The Chart. Read more from her at Dr. Lisa Shives’ Sleep Better Blog.

The information contained on this page does not and is not intended to convey medical advice. CNN is not responsible for any actions or inaction on your part based on the information that is presented here. Please consult a physician or medical professional for personal medical advice or treatment.

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soundoff (220 Responses)
  1. No Sleep

    What do you call falling a sleep for 1 to 1 1/2 hours and then not being able to sleep for 1 to 3 hours before finally falling a sleep until its time to get up. I cycle through this every few months for 1 to 2 weeks and after about 4 days in a row can barley function. Have had this issue for 40 years now.

    December 1, 2010 at 11:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Kari

      I know what it is... no sleep... walking and pacing the floors up and down... looking in the fridge for some snack... planning what to make for breakfast/lunch... making grocery/shopping lists... and then fed up and finally fighting hard to TRY to sleep and the alarm rings...!!! Been going thru' this for a long time now...!!! Tired of this routine... want to do something different tonight...!!! Good luck to me...!!!

      December 1, 2010 at 16:22 | Report abuse |
  2. eric

    the answer isn't always the need of medicine. if you have trouble sleeping, you shouldn't have caffeine and you should exercise.

    bam, you are now cured.

    December 1, 2010 at 15:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • CC Croft

      Not hardly. Lots of exercise, avoiding caffeine... I rarely get to sleep any earlier, though sometimes sleep better.

      December 13, 2010 at 14:14 | Report abuse |
  3. Dr. Carrie Nelson

    Dr. Shives is right on in her advice. In my years of practice experience, these are exactly the strategies to undertake if you need to get your sleep-wake cycle more on par with the way society operates. For more information on the the importance of restful sleep to a healthy lifesyle go to my blog: http://www.doctorcarrieshealthyliving.com/. Also follow me on Twitter @DoctorCarrieNelson.

    December 6, 2010 at 13:06 | Report abuse | Reply
    • louise

      which society? There are plenty of working, giving people who function better at a later part of the day. I still don't understand why we are all forced to abide by the old agrarian-based schedule.

      April 12, 2011 at 20:32 | Report abuse |
    • Stuart

      "if you need to get your sleep-wake cycle more on par with the way society operates."

      Society can bite my shiny metal nocturnal ass.

      September 7, 2013 at 02:29 | Report abuse |
  4. anise

    I wouldn't call this a disorder. There's no reason why we should have to go to bed at a certain time and then get up at a certain time. Only people who can't use artificial light to work (farmers) should be stuck with this kind of schedule if it doesn't come to them naturally.

    I'm a writer and killing myself to get up early to get to a day job where I didn't feel clear-headed until 10am just didn't make sense. (My schedule stayed like this for years, but it never reset my clock.) I made the hard shift to freelance, which involved some belt-tightening for a while, but it was worth it in the end. Now when I sit down at my desk, I'm ready to work and be productive immediately. The fact my body operates this way just meant I had to reorganize my life a little. I don't want to take pills - I sleep fine when I actually get sleepy, which is just very late.

    I love the line at the end, about adult responsibilities forcing you to become a morning person. You never become a morning person. You just have no other choice because you had kids or whatever. I would not call it a "solution" to just set up your life so you have to be miserable and get up way too early every day.

    Embrace your own damn clock, I say!

    December 7, 2010 at 12:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mom of Three

      THANK YOU! Geez! I am so sick of the teasing, discrimination and constant nagging of the morning majority. When I was an infant my mother would have to wake me up before noon. I am, and have always been, more alert, sharp and active at night. I just want science to finally figure out that there's a genome for this, and it's something that we can't use cute little tricks to "fix." This is who I am, and yet, I never am allowed to be okay with my schedule. Since I work from home, and have a morning person husband who realizes that we're not all the same, it works for our family.

      April 12, 2011 at 15:57 | Report abuse |
    • louise

      I agree. Often creative people love the night hours and are more productive then. Why do we all have to be slaves to the morning types? This applies to schools too. I wish, for the creative/night types there was a later shift.

      April 12, 2011 at 20:29 | Report abuse |
    • Julie

      I so agree. I googled "sleep disorders,night owl" to see if I could find any info on why I am the way I am. I have been a night owl since childhood. I have gotten a lot of grief about it over the years. I can't help it I have tried and tried over the years to be a "normal" person but I just can't. I am wide awake from the time the sun goes down until about 7 or 8 am. My sleep pattern is very much opposite from the norm. I have tried to acclimate myself to society's routine. But I just can't. I always revert back after a day or two. I am also a creative (graphic arts). It is so nice to know that there are others like me.

      March 13, 2012 at 11:44 | Report abuse |
    • Jaalejandro

      I've got good news and bad news for you. The good news is that she's getting there. The bad news is that the madicel definition of sleeping through the night means sleeping one 4-5 hour stretch. So waking up 2-4 times a night is still very developmentally and biologically appropriate for an infant.Babies have small tummies and need to wake up to fill them. (And stuffing them in the hopes of getting more sleep doesn't work. They've done studies on that one. If you're lucky, you'll get a baby who sleeps the same. If you're not, you'll get a baby who gets uncomfortable gas from being too full and wakes up more often rather than less.)The bigger and older she gets, the longer she'll be able to go. My daughter started sleeping longer once she hit about 10 pounds that's when she started going for one 4 hour stretch, usually midnight to 4 am. By six months she was starting to go longer. (Although then you run into night waking due to teething, growth spurts, and developmental milestones!)My son started out at 10 lbs. 4 oz. and has slept a good 4-5 stretch once a night since birth, from roughly 7 to 11 pm. He's over 20 pounds now and is starting to sleep for 6 hours or so.Hang in there, mama. Don't try to force your baby into different sleeping habits. That's alternately frustrating for you or spirit-breaking for them (i.e. cry it out horrid practice). Instead, try to work *with* her. Nap when she naps during the day, as much as possible. Enlist your partner to help with the nighttime parenting. I do the nursing and diaper changes for our youngest at night, my husband takes care of our older child when she asks for water, needs calming down because of teething, etc. When we had just one, I did the nursing and he did the diaper changes so neither of us was getting too sleep deprived.

      April 9, 2012 at 14:19 | Report abuse |
    • H

      Thank you, Anise. I, too, have a different sleep-clock than other people. It started when I was sixteen. I just lost a nice flexible-hours job and I'm on the market again. I keep running into a lot of 8-5 stuff and it's frustrating. I may be forced to take one of these jobs, which will be hard. It is difficult to make people understand. They say things like "you'll get used to it," or "if you get up early everyday, your bady will adjust." Well, it's more than 10 years later, and mine hasn't, though I've tried every combination of getting up and sleeping in out there. Of course if I don't sleep much for nights, I'll eventually fall asleep early, but then I'll be awake until at least 2 AM the next night, rinse and repeat, ad nauseum. So I'm a night owl. And that is not something that society is set up for. But it's who I am.

      September 17, 2012 at 05:22 | Report abuse |
  5. At work

    For those of you saying that you are night owls going to bed at 1am and awaking 8 hours later at 9 or so, this article doesn't really apply to you now does it? This article is discussing how no matter what time you get up in the morning you are still staying awake waaaay past the 16 hour mark, therefore NOT leaving yourself enough time to get 8 hours of sleep before you get up again for your daily activities. If you are getting 8 hours of sleep, this article doesn't apply and you are right you don't have a disorder. I can understand where this comes from...I get up around 6 or 7am daily, but my body wants me to go to bed at 1 or 2am. That only leaves 4-5hours of sleep. Sometimes it's worse...I just cant sleep any earlier.

    December 13, 2010 at 12:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • sonjaleighrsd

      I have DSPD and it has nothing to do with insomnia. It is a delay in your sleep. I fall asleep at 9 a.m. usually. I have tried light therapy, melatonin, sleeping pills, etc. None of it works. My body wants to sleep in the day. DPSD is not the inability to sleep rather it is the inability to sleep during normal hours. We sleep in the day instead of night. So absolutely you can have this if you get the right amount of sleep (but at a very odd hour). It is about when you sleep, not how. DPSD is not insomnia, we sleep soundly in the day time.

      January 8, 2014 at 05:26 | Report abuse |
  6. Teri

    I had a fairly normal sleep cycle until I got pregnant. Then, I slept all the time for the entire pregnancy, not just the first trimester like most people do. Then, after the baby was born, I slept in spurts of 4 hours sleep, 4 hours up, 4 hours sleep, 4 hours up – pretty much the same schedule the baby had. Even after the baby started sleeping though the night, I remained on the 4 on/4 off schedule. This lasted until she started school at which time, I started staying up half the night getting chores done (I worked full time during the day and at times went to school part time at night as well). During that time, I was going to bed around 3am only to be up at 7:00 to get her to school – still only 4 hours of sleep at a time. It has been six years since she started school and I am just now getting back to a fairly normal sleep cycle of going to bed around 10-11 and getting up at 7 and most days I have to get a nap just to make a stretch of being awake that long. I am exhausted all of the time – whether I get 4 hours of sleep or 12. I wouldn't necessarily say this is a disorder, but simply the body's way of adapting to the situation around them.

    December 14, 2010 at 13:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. NotSoSensitive

    A lot of people are getting upset about the words in this article. Lisa explains herself very well. If this issue is disturbing your life, and you need to correct it, then it's a problem. Otherwise, live your life, it's not a problem.
    I have always had this issue. I live around it. Graveyard shifts are best for me. So, I don't have a problem. As for the rest of the world forcing us into their mold, really? We live in a majority rules society. So, most people live in an 8 to 5 world, therefore most of the world is 8 to 5, grocery shop and bill pay before you go to work, or on your way home, and voila, no issue.

    December 14, 2010 at 16:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Jessica

    I wish I could find a decent paying job that actually was available during my optimal operating hours - Now that I'm having to wake up at 5:30am to get to work :( I fall asleep around 10-11pm, but I can't sleep very well unless I go to bed after 3 or 4 am. If I go to bed later, I actually SLEEP instead of doze in and out. I've been on day shift for 2+ years now, and I still haven't shifted schedules yet. I even have an alarm that goes off on the weekends, so I can't sleep too late and fall back into my default sleep schedule. I still wake up at every couple of hours, and melatonin does not help.

    December 15, 2010 at 09:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. amused nightwalker

    I have to say that I find it amusing how many people are up in arms about this article, as if it was a personal attack on them. I also find it amusing how many people are proudly proclaiming night owl status because they go to bed at 1am. I'm sorry but if you go to bed at 1am and still get up at 7-8... you are far from a night owl. And as pointed out several times – this article doesn't pertain to you.

    I am fully nocturnal. I'm lucky enough that I have a job where I can work 12 hour overnight shifts (6pm-6am). Depending on the day and if I have to get my daughter up for school when I get home I get to bed anytime between 8-10am and sleep easily till she comes home around 4pm. I don't need heavy curtains or blinds or silly sleeping masks, the light doesn't bother me. When I was a teenager I fit the profile given in the article, falling asleep in class, long periods of insomnia laying awake at night. It seems like I could just never fall asleep when I wanted/needed to.

    Is it possible that I suffered from this as a teen/young adult till I found a job that fit "my" schedule? I wonder. It was horrible, the constant insomnia and exhaustion. And I was an active person in several activities and fairly fit. Such suggestions as using a light box might have saved me a lot of sleepless nights. Am I going to try and fix myself now? No. As I said, my body has found a natural rythym and I'm lucky to be able to run with it. It will be something I'll keep in mind when my daughter though. My mother was a nightwalker like me (worked 11pm-7am) when I was a kid, so I have a feeling my girl might end up the same. Even now at 9 years old she's starting to slip further back, staying awake in her room till 10-11pm at night and still getting up at 6:30am for school. Maybe I'll get a light box now and try it out to keep her from slipping much further.

    December 15, 2010 at 21:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. razzlea

    http://razzlea.blogspot.com/

    December 31, 2010 at 10:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Draggin

    1) I too am a night owl - the freedom from interruption and criticism is the probable reason.

    2) Late night computer geeks - what color is your computer desktop? I realized mine was a particular shade of blue. Try changing it to something like a muted pink, and turn down the intensity of your screen and space lighting - doing so made a big difference for me. I also agree with the mason about the effects of exercise, though I don't like doing it.

    3) As I read this, I am struck by how verbal, social, and positive, most of the posters here have been. Maybe we should pick a time & place, and have a 1am get-together.

    Time to get some sleep, everyone (it's almost 8AM!)

    January 10, 2011 at 07:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Youhr MOM

    Well if any of you guys have ever had those problems and actually tried it out you wont know wassupp! and us for us people that do have it never even try those things and when we do it dossnt work at all you still have the rhythm adn its impossible to dim the lights when you live in a small place with many family members and its just possible.

    January 11, 2011 at 20:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. dancingfrog

    what is it w/ppl who are "day types" trying to make those of us who aren't "day" ppl, fit into their mold? for yrs. i have been a nite person,& i am still to this day. i used to think i should be a day person. well, i tried all sorts of things & nothing worked, so i accepted the situation for what it is, & instead of fighting it, i work w/it. i've been forced in past yrs to be on the day-time routine because i had a family to take care of & their schedules were on the day ppl's. have any of these so-called experts looked into the animal kingdom? like duuh, there are animals, bugs, etc. who sleep in the day-lite hrs. & hunt or are awake when it's dark. who's the dumber here? when the summer heat is torturous, why shouldn't one sleep? when it's dark & cooler, then be up. if one is more produtive when the stars are shinning, then who cares? if it weren't for those "nite owls" there would be no food on the store shelves when the day ppl do their shopping, no late nite t.v. stations working, so those busy-body day ppl would have up-to-the-minute news to watch while they drink their a..m. beverage of choice. one wouldn't be able to flush their commodes say at 5 a.m., b/c the day ppl aren't at work until 9 a.m., so you'll just have to wait. oh yeah, & if those who work at the newspaper offices were day ppl, who do you think would be printing the a.m. paper that's tossed on your doorstep? what about the water company workers, how do you think you get running water in the middle of the night? if you didn't have running water in the middle of the night, the fires would rage uncontrolably b/c nobody would be working the "nite shift"! ooh & there's the nite shift ppl who keep your home gas to heat or cook coming into your home. what about those who work at the electic stations? ooh they work days, so you canj't have your coffee until they come to work at 9 a.m. gee, i guess your food in the frig wouldn't stay too fresh either, & what about all those hot sweltering days, when you need the air conditioning working, even into the night b/c you are trying to sleep, who do you think keeps the electricity flowinhg to your home "at night"? day workers? not! ooh, & let's not forget the police stations or the police who drive the streets so we're reasonably safe to sleep at nite, the hospt.emergency rooms that one can go to at 3-4 in the a.m., & then the fireppl who will respond to a call at 3-4 in the morning when your house or business is on fire. soo b/4 you "day ppl" critisize & try to make everybody the same, stop & think ... what kind of place would it be if everybody was a day person?

    January 14, 2011 at 07:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Claire

      Haha, I love this post! ;-D You sound just like me! :-)

      September 20, 2013 at 20:29 | Report abuse |
  14. Lys

    My husband has this, has since at least high school. He's the stay-at-home-parent while I work. We have 3 school-age kids and a toddler. My husband HAS to be able to be awake and functioning once the toddler"s up and running around. He also doesn't enjoy being up, alone, all night with nothing but re-runs on TV and nothing to do. There's only a limited amount of cleaning he can do without waking others up. My biggest problem there is that he doesn't feel like doing any of it, is too tired during the day from lack of sleep, so I have to do it when I get home from work or it doesn't get done. In the current context of our family, my husband has a sleep disorder.

    I can't wait till all the kids are older and independent enough for my husband to be able to get the sleep he really needs.

    January 20, 2011 at 23:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. LeelooMinai

    I am a night owl. I sleep best between 5AM and 2PM....And I hit my peak of alertness anywhere from 10PM through 3AM.

    That being said, if you are a night owl and have a job which can reasonably accommodate your most alert hours then you don't have to worry about those larks. I used to work the evening shift. Now, I work 8AM-4PM, with a bedtime of 10:30PM to 6:30AM. I am most definitely less alert in the morning hours than I am going into nighttime. I also love naps, which is very damaging to a night owl if they must sleep overnight in order to wake in the morning. Generally I wake up very slowly, and even with the aid of coffee I'm still yawning at noon. I struggle through the day even with a consistent 8-hour sleep schedule (though I do often suffer insomnia and hyperactivity from depression and chronic migraines), and though I have successfully refrained from napping now for 2 weeks after I come home from work, the urge to do so is still very overwhelming. I must keep myself on a strict sleep schedule because if I don't, it will trigger migraines. However, it was, and still is, very natural for me to revert back to old 5AM-2PM sleep schedules if I am off of work for any reasonable length of time.

    I wish I could say that melatonin, sunlight, and stricter sleep schedules have aided my transition into the daytime world. Unfortunately they haven't, but there aren't always opportunities or options for night owls to find gainful employment during the hours they function best, and changing the nature of the daytime world just in order to fulfill our needs is not a realistic outlook or expectation, though it would be great. I have to do what I have to do to survive and to make sure my family survives, and if I have to drag a little in the morning to make it work, well, it's not so bad. (at least I keep trying to tell myself that).

    January 21, 2011 at 19:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. DoesntHaveADisorder

    This article is preposterous and insulting. As numerous other commenters have noted, extensive research exists that shows there is a continuum of natural, biological, and largely hereditary sleep patterns. There is growing support (note, I say support, not proof, and these are generalities) that Night Owl patterns are associated with higher IQs, longer lasting alertness, greater evening muscle strength, and more. That is not to say there aren't downsides as well, just pointing out some potential positives the article doesn't mention.

    How about we say that those early larks that can't do anything productive after 6pm and get all out of sorts if they must stay awake past 9:30 have a "disorder" and treat them using light/dark therapy and pump them full of drugs to force them to stay up until 3am and wake at 11am to fit some schedule that I prefer and find "natural and normal"? That makes just about as much sense as this unfortunate article.

    Much of our world is built around an early-riser schedule, so if the article was framed and phrased in a way that merely offered support for people wishing to adapt their natural patterns to an earlier schedule for practical reasons alone, I would support it. But the author comes across as arrogant, smug, and misinformed by referring to a later sleep schedule as a "Disorder" and preaching that everyone needs to be like her – the superior and "normal" early riser. Shame on her.

    February 8, 2011 at 15:03 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Stuart

      exactly. well said. THANK YOU.

      September 7, 2013 at 02:22 | Report abuse |
  17. Night Owl and PROUD OF IT !

    I have been a night owl since my teens. I struggled for several decades trying to fit into the day job world. I hate it. It is always a chore, totally running against my grain always having to work when I am tired. I got layed off from two jobs, including one last year, and one of the reasons in each case was chronic tardiness. I worked very hard and was one of the better educated and performing in my department in each case, so that is why I did not lose jobs more frequently. Now I am determined to somehow make a living on MY terms at times of day (night) when it is convenient for ME. All you morning people can go to hell. Who died and made you king anyway ? I agree with DoesntHaveADisorder; let's treat all the morning people like THEY are the ones that have a problem and force them into our world !

    April 13, 2011 at 23:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Claire

      I so agree with you! I am a night owl AND an introvert, so I not only have to conform to the extrovert world, I have to conform to the 'day people' world as well!

      September 20, 2013 at 20:32 | Report abuse |
  18. Taylor Scott

    I find it incredibly annoying that doctors toss "disorder" onto everything these days.... This is NOT a disorder. It's perfectly natural to have a circadian rhythm that differs fom what close minded people consider the "norm". 6 to 17 percent of the population? Your numbers are completely inaccurate. Ugh.

    August 26, 2012 at 22:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Elly

    There's an evolutionary theory as to why some people are night owls. Apparently the dangers required that someone be the night watch. Survival depends on someone watching out for everyone else during the night, so therefore it's nigh impossible to wrench such a person into functioning successfully during the daylight hours.

    While I was in college, I used to regularly wake up at 6:00 AM. I don't know how I did it, but man do I wish I could go back to it. Over the past couple of years after I graduated, I drifted into a 3AM-12PM sleep cycle that I cannot deviate from without feeling sick. If I need to wake up well before noon to do something I've wanted to do for months, I end up getting temporary insomnia because I'm afraid I won't sleep enough. Double-edged sword.

    August 13, 2013 at 16:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Stuart

    Um, bite me. It's 2.10 AM as I type this. I am a night owl and have always been a night owl. I will be awake for at least another hour, and then I will get to sleep. I will sleep until about 10 or 11 AM. This is my preferred rhythm. I get work done, very creative work, late at night. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG with being a night owl. DO NOT pathologise my behaviour. I resent it, and find it insulting. There is nothing special about the morning, or the night. This is how I function best. It happens to be at night. This article is dumb – it is exclusionary, normative, and, well, just plain dumb. Rather than deal with people as they are, it seeks to shoe-horn people into a circadian rhythm from agricultural society. News Flash: only 3% of the population is engaged in food production. There is absolutely ZERO reason to uniformly maintain that schedule in society.
    Now, you will have to excuse me, it is late, and I have some work to do. I was sent here by another night owl I was IMing with – he sent the link with the comment "Now THIS article is totally clueless. An example of the problem, not the solution." I have to agree with him.

    September 7, 2013 at 02:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. mike

    Well I am a night owl too...3am to 4pm and I'm ready to sleep. Since puberty I changed...somehow managedito make it through school and uni but at 28 I am accepting what I am. Just wish I could go to bed 1 hoyr earlier 1pm to 2pm would be better but never seems to happen.

    I feel like crap because I'm not a 9-5er and society doesn't truely accept peopke like us.

    I have DSPD and struggle to go bed before 1am at the very best. Being a debt collector I csn work 12pm to 8pm and these are the best times to work so I am lucky to find a job that fits my sleep pattern.

    December 3, 2013 at 23:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Mark

    Disorder is the wrong term.
    And using melatonin and light therapy to "alter" someones circadian rhythm is the equivalent of giving someone "Jet Lag" all the time. It's a stupid idea. You will decrease that persons fulfillment in life. They will always feel tired and empty.

    This article is written by someone "loosely" educated in the matter. More studying is needed by the writer. The writer is simply copying and pasting misinformation they've gathered on the topic from the internet.

    Historically most work was accomplished during the day because we didn't have night vision. Tasks like hunting, gathering, building are more productive and effective in the daylight hours for human eye sight.

    A small fraction of us were naturally selected to have the ability to stay awake during the night time as protectors of the tribe. It was not necessary to have much more than 5 – 10% of a tribe to be awake at night to provide protection.

    Night Owls are thought of as more intelligent because they were given tasks that involved working on problems experienced through the day. Lets say during the day, the laborers had difficulties completing a task because of technical problems. It was often asked upon the night owls to use math and critical thinking skills to try and solve the problem before morning. Night Owls are often great problem solvers. Their brain is wired for deep levels of thinking while they sit watch at night. They don't don't talk much. People that are night Owls almost always come up with their most brilliant ideas late late late at night when they are focused and not bothered. The early bird gets the worm. The night owl gets the mouse.

    We have maintained this lifestyle of a 9am to 5 pm schedule to benefit the "majority" of peoples natural circadian rhythym to sunlight hours.

    However, a few of us have the genes passed on that adjust our circadian rhythm to delay our sleep schedule. More of us have this Gene because 10% of the current polulation is 713,700,000. Why suggest therapy to 713 million people? Is there a better suggestion perhaps?

    "Night Owls" should be embraced and not thought of as "handicapped". No therapy is needed. Companies like Philips (who know better) seem to be trying to make a buck on their "Light therapy" products. Experts need to recognize a Night Owl and direct them towards an employer that's allows them to work late at night, or Entrepreneurship. That is what a true expert does. Experts recognize natural tendencies and abilities. Then they aid them.

    January 17, 2014 at 02:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Alex

    This seems a lot like what happens to me, but I'm 23. I'm not a teen. Could this still be my problem though?

    April 14, 2014 at 01:58 | Report abuse | Reply
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