Sleep is vital to our overall health and without it, we would be unhealthy and unable to function properly. However, some people do not get enough sleep due to a schedule that simply doesn’t work for them, such as night owls who stay up too late and have to wake up early the next day, or those with insomnia who cannot sleep. If this is you, and you’ve tried to change your sleep schedule to no avail, then what I’m about to share with you may help you live happier and healthier with enough reset to go about your day.
First and foremost, we should define what a night owl is and some ways of getting better sleep. Someone who is a night owl tends to be more awake and productive during the evening and night time. One may have more energy, able to concentrate more, and get work done as opposed to the daytime, where they may feel tired, many times due to staying up too late the night prior and waking up early the following day. Likewise, someone who has insomnia stays up too late and cannot sleep either, but this may be due to an underlying medical issue.
Some ways of promoting good quality sleep is by limiting technology before bed, using a blue light filter on your phone and computer, as well as dedicated blue light filter glasses, and practicing meditation, yoga, or another relaxation technique before bed. Furthermore, exercise, eating healthy, and having a positive mindset will help one sleep better. However, many of these things for someone who is unable to sleep well is redundant as they’ve already tried it and were unable to change their sleeping patterns. If that is the case with you, then perhaps you’re looking at the situation from a limited perspective.
We’ve heard that getting a full eight hours of sleep is vital and if we don’t get it, we could be too tired to function for much of the day. However, this simply isn’t the case. We simply do not need that many hours of sleep, definitely not all at once. Instead, we can use less if it’s spaced apart. I’m referring to polyphasic sleep, which is the natural sleep pattern of humans and animals.
Polyphasic sleep is essentially a sleep cycle that consists of two or more sleep phases spread throughout the day. This can be sleeping for less hours at night and taking one or more naps during the day, or consist solely of spaced apart naps. Depending on your work and social schedule, this may or may not work for you.
The reason why polyphasic sleep is natural to humans is because we need a break every now and again to recharge and rest from busy activities. Do you eat just one big meal a day and call it there? Or do you eat multiple spaced apart throughout the day, and even include snacks? The same applies to sleep. If you sleep all night and expect to have long lasting energy without getting tired the next day, then you will be disappointed.
A good way of changing your sleep schedule is to set strict alarms for yourself, and only sleep when tired. If you look at the clock and see it is late and feel like you need to go to bed, but are not tired, then do not go to sleep, since that is where a source of insomnia comes from, trying to sleep when one is not tired. You don’t eat when you’re not hungry, so don’t sleep when you are not tired. Listen to your body and give it what it needs when it needs it.
If you feel tired throughout the day, even though you got good quality sleep the night before, then embrace these tired moments and take a quick nap of no more than 15-20 minutes. The time is crucial since if you sleep over this, you will often find it difficult to wake up, and your nap would have turned into sleep. Be strict with your schedule, and over time you will find that you will require less sleep at night, and thus your overall amount of time you sleep in a 24 hour period is reduced, leaving you free to be productive on other tasks.
Polyphasic sleep is the natural way humans and many other animals sleep, and there is nothing wrong with taking a few minutes out of your day to rest. In fact, you’ll feel so much better when you do.
Let me know how this works for you. Have a great day!
I am a night owl, feeling more productive during the evening and night time. However, I also used to have such a difficult time sleeping, tossing and turning for hours on end. I couldn’t sleep well, and was tired quite frequently.
I then developed the ability to take a short 15-20 minute nap in the afternoon, around 1-2pm, which helped tremendously, but then another issue arose. Even though I was able to sleep better at night time, I would stay up too late because I wasn’t tired and felt awful the next day when I slept too long. Not just physically awful, but mentally too since I would be ashamed of myself for sleeping too long and not waking up on time.
I then embraced the fact that I get tired throughout the day, and took a nap when needed, which is often two, sometimes three, naps during the day, which has allowed me to reduce the amount of hours I need at nighttime. It is presently still a work in progress, but mentally I am doing much better since I don’t feel ashamed of myself for being tired during the day, but instead just accept it, take a nap, and feel better and more productive afterwards.