Ask Dr. Nandi: Night owls' health may benefit from 'simple' routine adjustments

Posted at 10:00 PM, Jun 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-14 22:02:04-04

If you’re a night owl but work a 9 to 5 job, you could be facing detrimental health problems. To help boost your work performance and well-being, a new study found 4 easy changes could make a huge impact.

Folks who are night owls can really struggle when working typical hours that are geared towards morning people. Night owls often go to bed about 2:30 am and get up about 10:15 am.

Now for the most part, an average day starts at 9 am, so there’s just a couple hours difference here. But, research has found some health effects that are a whole lot more serious than just being tired during the day or having a harder focusing. Night owls can also face higher risks for diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

Now researchers wanted to find out if certain adjustments were made, would this affect how night owls felt. So 22 volunteers took part and sure enough, 4 simple changes led to improvements in cognitive performance and better reaction times. Plus feelings of daytime fatigue, depression and stress were reported to be much better. And instead of having “peak” performance in the evening, this took place in the afternoon.

So what were these 4 changes?

  1. Wakeup 2-3 hours earlier than your normal time. Then get outside into the morning light.
  2. Go to bed 2-3 hours sooner than you normally would. And minimize your exposure to light sources before bedtime, and this includes your phones and devices.
  3. Eat your breakfast right after getting up. Keep your lunch break at the same time every day, and make sure suppertime is not past 7 pm.
  4. Lastly, make these new changes a daily routine. And that includes the weekends as well.

Now I know night owls may think this is a bit daunting to take on, but the participants clearly felt improvements in their performance and overall well-being. So if you work a 9-5 job and want to feel better during the day, it certainly can’t hurt to try these 4 adjustments for 3 weeks and see if they too, can help you as well.

On the next Dr. Nandi Show, green is the gold standard of healthy living. Dr. Partha Nandi shares the story of Dr. Dan Pompa, a man whose environment and lifestyle made him chronically ill. Plus how one woman is avoiding toxins in her environment by living a completely sustainable lifestyle, how you can incorporate healthy products into your day-to-day, and skin care products to help make your life healthier. Tune in Saturday, June 15th at 1 pm to learn how you can live a Sustainable, Toxin-Free Life.