Need to change your usual sleep schedule? With the right guidance, you just might be able to. We’d like to think we control our bodies, choosing when to go to sleep and when to wake up. However, research shows we’ve got it wrong.
For example, it’s more than personal preference if you’re a night owl who’s awake in the wee hours or a morning person who springs out of bed at the crack of dawn. It turns out these habits are hard-wired into your genes.
Most of us conform to society’s expectations by shaping our sleep schedule to match school and workplace start and end times. But take that shaping away, and many people’s internal clocks might run on different timing.
“Many biological and psychological functions follow a near 24-hour pattern known as ‘circadian rhythm,’ says Rochelle Zozula, PhD, coordinator at Capital Health’s Center for Sleep Medicine in Hamilton, N.J.
These circadian rhythms affect everything from our body temperature cycle and sleep and wakefulness rhythms to the secretion of certain hormones such as melatonin and cortisol. They also respond to signals in the environment such as light and darkness and can be affected as we age.
It requires time and patience, along with the right medical supervision, but it is possible to get your body clock more in sync with the rest of the world. Every little thing can help you get a good night’s rest, from a comfortable adjustable bed, to freshly cleaned sheets to a doctor’s advice.