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How I fixed my sleep, became a morning person, and reigned in my eating

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

I have ALWAYS had insomnia. I remember being 13 years old and being awake at 3 am, 5 am, sometimes not even sleeping before class the next day. Going to college made things worse, and I pulled many all-nighters. No matter how sleepy I was, I found it incredibly difficult to fall asleep at a normal hour, and incredibly difficult to wake up early. Because I was not sleeping well/long at night, I was plagued by constant fatigue, muscle aches, and of course, overeating.

Since making the decision to be healthier, resetting my circadian rhythm has been an immense and ongoing challenge -- I couldn't just fall asleep earlier, no matter how many tips / tricks I tried, no matter how much exercise I did during the day. My inner clock was broken.

This article addresses how I fixed my own sleep schedule:

Short Version:
-I get outside every morning (during/immediately after sunrise) for 30 minutes.
-I exercise at 6 pm (this increases my body temp for 4 hours, then it falls just as I'm ready to head to sleep, helping me naturally fall asleep)
-I use the f.lux software on my laptop to eliminate blue light emission after sunset, and I have eliminated all blue and green lights from my bedroom and keep it dark as possible. No TV after dusk, either.

Quite naturally, I fall asleep around 9-10 pm because of the previous 3 points, and I sleep soundly until about 6 am the next morning. The most important part of my success has to do with exposure to natural morning light (the sun is about 10,000 lux vs indoor lights of 500 lux -- you can try SAD lamps or other such things, but for me the sun is the most effective for "resetting" me each morning) and reduction of blue evening light (I don't even need to give up my laptop in the evening thanks to the f.lux software! I use that thing right up until bed). This shift in light patterns has turned this (seemingly hopeless) night owl to an early bird with more energy and control over my eating.

I hope this blog, and the link above, can help anyone else out there who may be battling with delayed sleep phase syndrome. No matter how deep in it you are, there is hope, if you want to change.

f.lux software (for Windows, Mac OS X, iPhone and iPad):

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I have been trying to "become" a morning person for so long now that I've almost given up. I have tried so so hard to stop my insomnia and to learn how to sleep better. Everyone's advice is always pretty much the same "stop trying to be something you're not. So, you'll never be a 'morning-person' get over it and be a night owl but use it wisely." thanks for sharing this blog and for posting the links. When I get home I will have to check things out more in depth, but it's amazing and inspiring for me to know that you have been able to come this far in overcoming your sleep issues. Congrats on everything lately. I feel like I don't comment on enough of your blogs and posts but I really am so proud of the amazing things you have and will accomplish.

    I also remember being about 13 and just not wanting to or not being able to sleep at night. I vividly remember even farther back, at 7, playing a giant version of snakes and ladders in my living room after waking my little sister at 3:30 am. ...this was NOT an isolated occurance... My mom told me that I have been an all nighter kinda girl since I was crib age... stay up all night talking and laughing and then when I did sleep it was for very very short bursts. Ugh, poor mother.

    Anyways... thanks for doing the research that I should have been doing. I absolutely love that about you lol. You always seem to post just what I am looking for ;) With M working new, earlier hours out of town, we have got to do something about my sick sleeping patterns. I have some researching of my own to take care of tonight I think hahaha.

    I feel like we should chat more, so one of these days when you have some time, facebook me. I would love to catch up and see how you are doing all around. :)

    1976 days ago

    Comment edited on: 10/21/2012 3:53:55 PM
    Sweet! I switched to morning person a few years ago but have had challenges with my kids. I'll have to see what helps.
    1978 days ago
    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1979 days ago
    Nice going! Congrats on fixing the problem.
    1979 days ago
    i am trying to go to bed earlier now into the end of the year hoping i can start a new habit when the new year starts.
    1979 days ago
  • KIPPER15
    Wow , thank you for the information and the link. I really need to reset my sleep pattern. emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1980 days ago
    Good research, Val, and thanks for sharing. I have trouble falling asleep at the same time nightly. Ever since I was a kid, once every five or six months I just stay awake all night, becoming more and more alert. Usually after that happens, my rhythms reset themselves, and I sleep well for a good while.

    Humans are strange creatures...

    -- Claudia
    1980 days ago
  • MILLIE5522
    I don't suffer from insomnia but my daughter does so thank you for this. emoticon
    1980 days ago
    Very interesting, thanks for sharing!
    1980 days ago
    Living a healthy lifestyle certainly reset my body clock. It is amazing how exercise helps the body awaken and sets up energy for the rest of the day. I wake up without an alarm between 5:30 & 5:45 am every day, including week-ends. I find the less food I eat.... the less sleep I need. Apparently digestion requires a lot of rest when you overeat or consume junk food, especially sugar.
    1980 days ago
    Thank you for sharing this information!
    1980 days ago
    Good information, thanks!
    1980 days ago
  • _KATHY
    Makes sense to me. emoticon
    1980 days ago
    1980 days ago
    I love the fact that when you have a a problem you research it, learn about it and fix it. If you are like that in all area's of your must be unstoppable.

    The article you posted in very interesting. emoticon
    1980 days ago
    This is amazing. Thank you for telling me about the computer thing. I didn't know the computer and television light messed with your brain like that.
    1980 days ago
    Really goog information - yes , I use to be a night owl. I use similar techniques to fall asleep. I swim at night for exerciser - low impact night swim does the trick for me emoticon . I agree that the sunshine really supports a healthy sleep pattern. Great Blog , Thanks. emoticon
    1980 days ago
    Thank you for this great advice! Really helpful.

    1980 days ago
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