The activity of the human body is largelyit is determined by its characteristic chronotype - the most comfortable sleep and wake cycles for it. Usually there are two chronotypes: "owls" and "larks". The first ones get up early and go to bed early. The latter, on the contrary, go to bed late and get up late. In this case, many studies indicate that the first during the day feel more cheerful, and the latter are more susceptible to fatigue and stress. It is quite difficult to change your chronitip without medical or therapeutic intervention, but scientists from the universities of Birmingham and Surrey in the UK and Monash University in Australia say they have found a way to change the person’s chronotype as gently as possible by changing their daily routine in just three weeks.
According to the researchers, this changethe daily routine and lifestyle helped the owls to get up and lie down earlier, and also improved their emotional state and cognitive abilities. The findings of their research are published in the journal Sleep Medicine.
How to turn from an "owl" into a "lark"?
Scientists invited to participate in the experiment22 volunteers who had a nocturnal lifestyle but did not have neurological disorders and illnesses associated with sleep disorders. Before the start of the experiment, the researchers took analyzes from the participants and also got acquainted with their lifestyle. Then the people were divided into two groups. One was given instructions on changing the daily routine and lifestyle, which they had to follow for three weeks. The instruction was this:
- The rise of 2-3 hours before the usual time and the increase in exposure to daylight in the morning;
- Going to bed 2–3 hours before the usual time and limiting the effects of lighting in the evening;
- Compliance with the same duration of sleep on work and weekends (the maximum allowed deviation from the schedule for 15-30 minutes)
- Regular meals and early tomorrow (immediately after waking up), lunch at the usual time and dinner no later than 7 pm;
- Reducing caffeine intake after 3pm;
- Refusal of daytime sleep after 16:00;
- Transfer to the morning hours of regular physical activity (if any).
Compliance with the instructions was controlled byactivity trackers, as well as personal diaries, in which participants recorded their bedtime and recovery, meal times, workouts and coffee consumption. In addition, before and after the experiment, participants were asked to fill out questionnaires, with the help of which scientists determined their emotional state, as well as undergo tests for reaction, attention and physical strength (grip strength in this case). That group, which was not given instructions for changing the daily routine, had to adhere to their usual way of life.
Researchers report that by resultsthe three-week experiment participants who adhered to the prescribed instructions were able to successfully shift the bedtime by an average of 1.73 hours, and the wake-up time by 1.92 hours, without any changes in the duration of sleep. In addition, those who lived in a new routine for three weeks were able to shift the time of food consumption.
Scientists also noted a decline in performance.depression and stress in people who adhere to the instructions of the new daily routine. According to the analysis of polls, the first fell by 3.2 points, the second - by 3.8 points. In the experimental group, drowsiness also decreased in people in the morning, physical strength indicators improved, and cognitive abilities compared with those before the experiment. The control group showed no significant changes.
The authors of the study believe that they usea strategy of short-term changes in daily routine and lifestyle can effectively adjust the chronotype to be more suitable for maintaining socially acceptable. At the same time, experts explain that after the experiment the result of fixing a new daily routine with its former participants was not evaluated. To do this, it is necessary to conduct more long-term research, say scientists.
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