January 2020 is almost over and we have ushered in a new decade. Recently reported in the NZHerald is an article about New Zealanders and their lack of sleep and how this affects their mental health. It doesn’t take a doctor or reporter to highlight that sleep is a major contributor to psychological wellbeing.
Sleep is also crucial for a healthy body as the best work done in the gym is only as good as the rest you provide your body to heal from the stress of the load you put on it.
It can help to know what kind of person you are to get the best benefits from your sleeping patterns. Such as are you are night owl or an early bird. This is where the science of chronobiology can help you.
The science of chronobiology gives some incredible insights into why some bodies respond better than others to exercise, food, meditation and even socialising at particular times of the day.
The brief overview:
Knowing if you are a night owl or an early bird is critical for timing of training, nutrition and general health. If you think you are a night owl, listen to your body and train later in the day, rather than dragging yourself out of bed first thing in the morning. It might actually be causing you more stress.
There are night owls and early birds, and everyone everywhere in between! These sleep preferences are controlled by lots of genes, but typically the appropriately named CLOCK genes are known for their ability to tell the time, and adjust your physiology accordingly.
These genes help control our response to the light and dark cycle, and they also sync up with other organs in our body. What’s really interesting is that while the light/dark cycle is very robust to change (it takes a lot to alter it), things like our digestion can be altered depending on our environment – i.e. more susceptible to epigenetic change. When you are doing shift work, your body adjusts to digest through the middle of the night, where normally it would be doing this through the day. Now while this is handy, this makes the central (light/dark) cycle clock, and digestive clock fall out of sync, and this can cause chronic stress over time. This can begin a process of disease…
This extends to exercise as well. When you work out in the morning and you are an early bird, it feels great and energising. When you are a night owl and you drag yourself out of bed for a morning bootcamp, it might actually be causing more stress, which can lead to a tendency to then store and conserve energy. This is all compounded by the fact that there is actually a high BMI in those who are night owls. However, this doesn’t mean night owls are more unhealthy, it just means they have a tendency of a particular somatotype.
If you would like to know more about yourself and find out if you are a night owl or an early bird, get in touch today.