Sleep Well Blog
How morning larks can stay up for New Year's Eve and other celebrations...
New Year's Eve is one of the few times of the year when the rest of the world parties with the night owl... well, Christmas, yes, in cultures that celebrate on Christmas Eve, but many actually sleep early on the eve because Christmas Day is when they celebrate. However, on New Year's Eve, it's the countdown to midnight that is at the centre of festivities.
For fellow night owls, you're well positioned to celebrate the countdown. It's part of your DNA - literally.
However, what about the morning larks of the world. What can they do?
If they're true morning larks, especially those who are more on the extreme end of the morningness-eveningness scale, they'll have trouble staying awake for celebrations and social engagements past 19:00 or 20:00.
(Yes, fellow night owls, it's hard to believe that people can't stay up past 7:00 pm or 8:00 pm... but these people do exist!)
Now, if you're a morning lark, you'll be getting some tips on what can be done to delay your bedtime. However, before giving them to you, realise that this should only be done temporarily and sparingly, such as when doing so for a special celebration, like New Year's Eve or a wedding. You can also use these tips to mitigate the effects of jet lag when flying to a locale in a later time zone. You won't want to do this all the time because of the mismatch between your circadian rhythm and staying up late. Health consequences can result if done over the long haul (see "When Shift Work Goes Against Your Chronotype").
However, if you need to delay your bedtime, here are some things that you can do:
1) Get as much bright light as you can later in the day and evening, especially before you would normally go to bed. If you happen to have a light box, use it at night for about an hour or two before bedtime. Different schedules exist, so this is just a general suggestion.
2) Limit bright light in the morning. Wear sunglasses (special ones for this purpose actually exist) or keep the lights dim. The goal is to give your body more light later in the day, especially in the evening before sleeping.
3) If you have time to prepare for the shifting of your bedtime, gradually go to bed later on each successive night. Let's say 15-20 minutes later than the previous day. Again, different schedules exist, so this is simply a general suggestion.
4) Eat later in the day than you normally would.
5) Exercising later and closer to your bedtime could potentially delay your phase as well.
Now, while melatonin can be and is often used to delay one's sleep phase, use it under the guidance of a health professional. The timing of when to take melatonin is both critical and counterintuitive. Therefore, seeing a sleep expert about when and how much to take is important because too many people take too much melatonin and at the wrong time or times. Remember, too, that many people take melatonin to go to sleep... BUT for morning larks, this is not your issue. You're using it to go to bed later.
There you go! Now you have some idea on what can be done for morning larks who want to stay up later on New Year's Eve and other special celebrations or who need to prepare for a time zone shift if they're flying off to somewhere with a later time zone.
More next year!