Are Some People Genetically Predisposed To Be Night Owls?

While some night owls may learn to work with the sleep schedule they’re predisposed to, others might find it difficult to function in the daytime. It’s important to note that some adults are short sleepers who naturally feel refreshed the day before even after sleeping less than 6 hours. But for many adults, the recommended amount of 6 to 9 hours of sleep helps them feel more rested and function better the day after.

If you’re feeling troubled by a bad body clock, then there are ways for you to try and address this immediately. Read on to see what may be causing your delayed sleep schedule and what you can do to fix it.

Being a night owl may be related to your genes

If your sleep schedule is always off by an hour or two, then you may be suffering from a condition called delayed sleep phase disorder (DSPD). DSPD is a common circadian rhythm sleeping disorder that causes difficulties when falling asleep at night, waking up at a normal time, and feeling awake during the day. Some common causes could be psychological disorders, changes after puberty, or irregular exposure to light affecting your circadian rhythm.

However, new research suggests that a genetic mutation may be affecting your sleeping pattern by delaying your biological clock. This mutation causes an irregularity in cryptochrome, a type of protein in charge of regulating your sleeping patterns. This disrupts the body’s ability to move through the active and inactive phases throughout the day.

However, while the mutation that may cause DSPD is genetic, this does not mean that you will suffer from being a night owl forever. It only heightens your risks of DSPD.

Your habits can be affecting your sleep patterns

Genes aren’t the only possible cause of delayed sleeping patterns. Habits are a factor, too. This is why it’s best to review habits that may be affecting your sleep.

Your smartphone, TV, and computer screens have been linked to reduced sleep quality. They stimulate the brain, to the extent of causing an adrenaline rush, hampering the transition to inactivity and delaying feelings of sleepiness. While it’s not necessary to eliminate them completely, it’s best to use them before climbing into bed. This is so that your bed can remain a place for sleep.

Eating habits can also play a part. Consuming caffeine six hours or less before bedtime can interfere with your sleep, as it disrupts the chemical adenosine which signals the brain to sleep. Eating big meals may also disrupt sleep, as it causes discomfort when lying down. Moreover, consuming spicy food, too much sugar, alcohol, or too many fluids might also interrupt your sleep quality as they can cause discomfort too close to bedtime.

What to do if nothing will fix your sleep schedule

In some cases, even remedying all of the habits listed above might still not result in sustainably fixing your sleep cycle. When this happens, you can take a physician exam called polysomnography. This is a comprehensive test used to diagnose sleep disorders. After taking this test, they will refer you to the proper professionals for treatment. Conditions like insomnia can be addressed with therapy administered by mental health psychologists. Because these licensed professionals have an extensive understanding of the human mind, they can help a person overcome underlying causes behind disrupted sleep schedules.

Mental health psychologists treat sleep disorders with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is an evidence-based treatment meant to address habits and behaviors that reduce the quality of sleep. Some techniques applied in CBT are sleep restriction therapy, stimulus control therapy, and relaxation training.

But if changing your habits doesn’t work, then your case could be genetic. In this case, it may be healthier to adjust your daily schedule accordingly. Behavioral strategies can also be applied for circadian issues as well. If your sleep schedule is delayed, then it may help you to find a consistent time to wake up.

Ultimately, your sleep habits should depend on what your mind and body need. ‘The right amount of sleep’ might not look the same for everyone. But if you’re a night owl seeking to fix your sleep schedule, then there are many avenues you can try to help you through it.

Exclusively written for by Alicia Grace

6500 Seven Locks Road Suite 206
Cabin John, MD 20818

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