The activity of the human body is largely determined by its characteristic chronotype is the most comfortable for him or cycles of sleep and wakefulness. Normally, there are two chronotype “owls” and “larks”. First get up early and go to bed early. Second, on the contrary, I stay up late and get up late. At the same time, many studies indicate that the first day I feel more energetic and the second more prone to fatigue and stress. Change your chronici without medical or therapeutic intervention is difficult, however, scientists from the universities of Birmingham and Surrey in the UK and Monash University in Australia say they have found a way, as gently as possible to change the chronotype of the person by changing his daily routine in just three weeks.
According to the researchers, the change of routine and lifestyle help “owls” to get up early and go to bed, and improved their emotional state and cognitive ability. The findings of their study published in the journal Sleep Medicine.
As of “owls” to become a “lark”?
Scientists invited to participate in the experiment, 22 volunteers to adhere to night life, but did not have neurological disorders and diseases associated with sleep disorder. Before the experiment, the researchers took participants ‘ tests and got acquainted with their way of life. Then people divided two groups. One gave the instruction about change of daily routine and lifestyle, they needed to be followed for three weeks. The statement was this:
- Rise 2-3 hours before the usual time and the increased exposure to daylight in the morning;
- Going to bed for 2-3 hours before the usual time and limit the impact of lighting in the evening hours;
- Respect the same sleep duration on work and on weekends (maximum allowed deviation from the schedule by 15-30 minutes);
- Regular meals and early tomorrow (immediately after waking up), lunch at the usual time and dinner no later than 7 PM;
- Reduce consumption of caffeine after 15:00;
- Refusal to NAP after 16:00;
- Transfer on the morning of regular physical activity (if any).
Compliance with instructions was assessed using activity trackers as well as personal diaries in which participants recorded the time of going to bed and getting up, mealtimes, exercise, and drinking coffee. In addition, before and after the experiment, participants were asked to fill out questionnaires, which scientists have determined their emotional state, as well as pass tests on reaction, attention and physical strength (grip strength in this case). The group, which instructions change the order of the day is not provided, it was necessary to stick to their usual lifestyle.
The researchers said that the results of the three-week experiment, participants who adhered to the prescribed instructions, was able to successfully shift the time of going to sleep on average of 1.73 hours, and the time of awakening — in 1.92 hours, without any change in the duration of sleep. In addition, lived on the new routine for three weeks were able to shift the time of consumption of food.
Scientists also noted a decrease in depression and stress in people, which adhered to the instruction of the new routine. According to the analysis of interviews, first fell by 3.2 points, the second – 3.8 points. In the experimental group of people in the morning also decreased sleepiness, improved physical strength, and cognitive abilities compared with the indicators before the experiment. In the control group significant changes were not observed.
The authors of the study believe that they use the strategy of short-term changes in daily routine and lifestyle can effectively adjust the chronotype more appropriate to maintain an acceptable in the society. At the same time, specialists explain that after the experiment has not been evaluated, the result of the consolidation of the new order of the day at his former participants. This requires a more long-term studies, the researchers note.