Schedules are the problem
It's not like the gene that says you'll have a delayed chronotype also says you're going to have all these health issues. "The biggest problem these owls have is that they need to get up early to get to school or work," Dr. Ancoli-Israel points out. "They’re going to bed late, they’re waking up early... they are actually sleep deprived... and that’s why they’re tired during the day, that's why they sometimes have more depression, more anxiety, more weight gain."
She explains that night owls, constantly trying to catch up on sleep, also have "less of a routine, or standard bedtime and standard up time... a really irregular sleep-wake cycle is going to create more problems." Which makes sense, and also maybe explains why society is set up this way: it was the early birds who decided, because they were awake first. Only sort of kidding
There's hope for night owls yet
If you have the luxury of letting your body follow its own clock, great. But if you’re an extreme night owl with a standard job that forces you out of bed early, there are a few solutions for shifting your rhythm. Number one: sunlight! Especially in the morning. No sunglasses. "The mechanism of affecting our rhythm is actually through the eyes," according to Dr. Ancoli-Israel. "So when you wear sunglasses, you’re blocking all that good light." We apologize that you have to drop your cool and give up shamelessly staring at people on your way to work.
Number two: a lightbox. For those who have never seen one, try to get over the fact that a person sitting in front of a lightbox looks like a Twilight Zone scene. You don't need to just sit there though -- the doc recommends multitasking, like turning on the lightbox while you're having breakfast. You might consult with a sleep specialist about taking melatonin at night, which might help signal your body to go to sleep earlier.
What not to do? Sleeping pills. "A sleeping pill is not going to be the right answer because these people don’t have insomnia... It's just not the right time to go to bed for them!" Dr. Ancoli-Israel warns.
If you have a relatively normal (typical) or early-bird (advanced) chronotype, you aren't going to have to make these adjustments, because society is structured for you people. But you're never going to be as good at partying.
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Marina Komarovsky is a freelance writer for Thrillist and she proposes pre-party naps for delayed chronotypes who experience the afternoon slump five hours late, after happy hour. For more fun stuff on health, follow her tweets: @MariKomarovsky.