Friday, February 19, 2010

Night Owl Syndrome

I am an early bird! I love waking up in the morning. I love opening my blinds and letting the song birds sing to me. A long shower, a hot cup of coffee, Al Roker and a smile is all I need to have for a good morning.

Well, actually, I lied. Waking up in the morning is number 3,658,915,556.23 on my list of enjoyable things to do. Truthfully speaking, when I wake up, my room has to be completely dark, noiseless, coffeeless, and foodless; otherwise I might get grumpy. And I don't know about you, but I have to set my alarm AT LEAST 1 1/2 hour before I have to leave. However, researcher say I can cut down on my "getting ready time" if I only change one element of my morning routine.

It's called Teenage Night Owl Syndrome and researchers from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Lighting Research Center (LRC) stated that,

"As teenagers spend more time indoors, they miss out on essential morning light needed to stimulate the body's 24-hour biological system, which regulates the sleep/wake cycle," and

"These morning-light-deprived teenagers are going to bed later, getting less sleep and possibly under-performing on standardized tests. We are starting to call this the teenage night owl syndrome."

A study published in Neuroendocrinology had 11 8th graders wear special glasses which prevented short-wavelength (blue) morning light from reaching their eyes. The results revealed that the students experienced a 30 minute delay in falling asleep over the course of 5 days.

So why does this happen?

Melatonin is a chemical in the body that helps to regulate the body's 24 hour circadian cycle. The body starts to produce this chemical about 2 hours before you go to bed. However, in the continued absence of blue light (getting ready in the dark), it is released 6 minutes later each night and eventually, their sleep cycle is completely out of line.

So, if you are one of these people who can't fall asleep until the wee hours of the morning and have trouble waking up on time, try waking up to sweet sunshine. Open your blinds and soak up the sun!

1 comment:

  1. Nice post...I am also not a morning person, so I hear you. I did read a few studies that link blue light with our sleeping patterns and that without it we get off track.