Dear Dr. Rosenberg,
What time would you recommend night owls get up and go to bed, if they’re not stretching the envelope?
Night owls should go to bed when they are sleepy. Advising a night owl to go to bed at a certain time that conflicts with their inherent circadian rhythms will not work. They need to discover what time they actually get sleepy when all electronics are off. Sometimes a vacation is the best time to reacquaint ourselves with our natural circadian rhythms. However, they need to take into account when they need to be up in the morning and try to guarantee themselves at least 6 ½ to 7 ½ hours of sleep. Night owls tend to drift to later and later bedtimes, so once established, stick to a set sleep/wake schedule.
Dear Dr. Rosenberg,
Is there an optimal time for night owls to perform cognitive tasks — say, writing, or diagnosing a patient? In addition, how about morning people?
As a rule, night owls are more alert later in the day and perform better in the evening. Most morning people do not do well after 10 p.m. A night owl who regularly goes to bed at 2 a.m. will probably be most alert after 10 p.m. The problem is that night owls attempt to do more and more later and later and thus progressively delay their bedtime until it may be out of control. In either case, electronics, televisions, etc., should be shut down 60 minutes before bedtime.
Dr. Robert Rosenberg, D.O., FCCP, DABSM
Robert S. Rosenberg, DO, FCCP, is the medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center of Prescott Valley, Arizona and sleep medicine consultant for Mountain Heart Health Services in Flagstaff, Arizona. Dr. Rosenberg is board certified in sleep medicine, pulmonary medicine, and internal medicine. He is a contributing sleep expert blogger and his advice has appeared in Women’s Health, Prevention, Ladies’ Home Journal, Parenting, and O Magazine, among others. Dr Rosenberg is a weekly newspaper columnist addressing sleep Q&As. Dr. Rosenberg appears on TV and radio and lectures throughout the country on Sleep Medicine. His book Sleep Soundly Every Night, Feel Fantastic Every Day is a best seller. Dr Rosenberg’s latest book is The Doctor’s Guide to Sleep Solutions for Stress & Anxiety. Visit Dr Rosenberg’s website WWW.AnswersForSleep.com which is a wealth of information on sleep topics.