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The Surprising Truth About Night Owls

By Kate Gardner

My husband is a night owl. Every night, he stays up late. While I dutifully head off to bed by 10 p.m., he often stays up till 1 a.m. or later. When it comes time to get the kids up in the morning, he has a harder time waking up and getting going. While I sometimes think he's staying up late to maximize his relaxation time, he may have delayed sleep phase syndrome. 

What Is Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome? 

According to, delayed sleep phase syndrome occurs in people who go to bed much later than most, between 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. (or even later). This leads to later wake times the next morning. These individuals likely experience insomnia (when they go to bed too early) and sleepiness (when they wake too early). Approximately 10 percent of the population may have sleep that fits this definition. These are the people we often consider night owls. 

Why Do Some People Have Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome?

Genetics and environment can both play a part in why some people have delayed sleep phase syndrome. Certain genetic mutations are known to affect our internal circadian clock. Additionally, our environment may trigger symptoms. This may include exposure to blue light from screens and sunlight. 

Does Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome Need to Be Fixed?

The major problem with delayed sleep phase syndrome is that schedules often don't allow these individuals to sleep and wake at the times their bodies want. Also, it is often not socially acceptable to stay up late and sleep in, even if you don't have to get up early. However, if you have a job or a schedule that works with delayed sleep there may be no reason to change your sleep patterns. 

What if You Need to Change Your Sleep Patterns?

There are a few simple steps you can take to adjust your schedule. Always wake up at the same time. Go to bed sleepy (even if this means you're staying up later than you would otherwise!). Doing so helps your body connect going to bed with being sleepy. Wake up with sunlight. Very Well Health suggests getting outside in the sun shortly after waking. Avoid screens at night, preferably for the last two hours before bedtime. If these steps don't help get your sleep on track, visit a healthcare provider for more options. 

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Fayetteville, N.C.

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