According to scientists in the UK and Australia changing the sleeping habits of those who stay up late could have an important effect on their health and wellbeing.
Researchers from the University of Birmingham, University of Surrey and Monash University showed that, over a period of three weeks, making some simple changes to the sleep routine of extreme night owls resulted in lower levels of sleepiness, stress and depression and also showed their reaction times improved.
Scientists studied 21 "extreme night owls" who were going to bed, on average, at 02:30 and not waking until after 10:00. They were then given the following instructions over the three weeks to help reset the body's internal clock, also known as a circadian rhythm:
- Wake up 2-3 hours earlier than usual and get plenty of outdoor light in the morning
- Eat breakfast as soon as possible
- Exercise only in the morning
- Have lunch at the same time every day and eat nothing after 19:00
- Banish caffeine after 15:00
- Have no naps after 16:00
- Go to bed 2-3 hours earlier than usual and limit light in the evenings
- Maintain the same sleep and wake times every day
The results showed that they managed to successfully shift their body clocks two hours earlier in the day and that these simple changes in routine improved their overall physical and mental health.