To listen or not listen to the circadian rooster

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created May 28, 2012 at 1:04 PM

I wake up before the alarm on an almost exact schedule of 4:20 AM. My husband's clock is fast but he says that if he wakes and looks, (I'll often get up) that the clock says 4:26. Enough on the precise thing...During the work year I usually stay awake because I get up within the half hour anyway. If I happen to fall asleep I feel like crap when I wake up again. Sometimes I go downstairs and read, drink some decaf, try to stay quiet for a bit. About 4:45 my husband's alarm rings and then our oldest son's. Then I feel free to exercise, listen to Pandora, throw wash in, cook breakfast and get ready for work.

I'm off for the summer months. Part of me wants to break the get up early thing for awhile, but time has proven that even on weekends and holidays I wake at the same time. My mind is active and alert. I do my best work in the morning. I have some writing to do and a bucket list of other projects, so the increased productivity wouldn't hurt. I can also enjoy some quiet moments with my honey before he leaves for work, but he also doesn't care if he gives a smooch to a wife gone back to bed. A matter of personal choice perhaps, but is sticking to the schedule better for me physically?

Would you get up with the rooster or hope that by ignoring him you can stuff him in the closet for the summer and adjust again when fall rolls around?



on May 28, 2012
at 07:10 PM

4:20? Wake and bake!

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4 Answers



on May 28, 2012
at 02:56 PM

Chronotype, or what is sometimes called "morningness" or "eveningness," is fairly fixed: http://www.shockmd.com/2010/11/02/morningness-versus-eveningness/ For a more scholarly approach, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17936039

Stick with what your body wants to do. A consistent waking and sleeping time is part of good "sleep hygiene" and encourages good "sleep architecture." More regular is better for your body (although it can be annoying to the mind): which you have already experienced when sleeping in doesn't work for you.

Here's some new stuff about seasonality and sleep, although it's looking at mild mood disorders: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22203895

Although I'm starting to drift off topic, here's some interesting earlier research suggesting that evening people tend to build up more sleep debt during the week (perhaps due to social organization is my speculation): http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10646169 (Note that there has been subsequent work by David Dinges and suggesting that people's subjective impressions regarding how well they function with a sleep debt are unreliable). So being more of an evening person might not be something you'd want to cultivate (even if your body would cooperate).



on May 28, 2012
at 07:13 PM

My mom is like that, she has ALWAYS woken up well before dawn. She's been retired for years now, still gets up at 5am (sometimes earlier). If you feel well-rested, alert and ready to go by waking up naturally at that time, then don't force yourself to sleep later.


on May 28, 2012
at 06:30 PM

It is my belief that the body takes what it needs as far as sleep goes. If I happen to sleep 12 hours on an off day of work, I feel fine when I get up and just think of it as my body needing sleep. Since my work schedule varies pretty widely, I can't just wake with the sun and go to sleep when I'm tired. Maybe when I win the lotto I can do that!



on May 28, 2012
at 02:40 PM

I always try & follow my natural rhythms for sleep. I find in the summer I naturally wake up earlier and in the Winter I tend to sleep longer. This can be difficult with modern life demanding we stick to schedules, etc. I just feel & perform better when I follow what Nature is telling me, same for eating. I also find that I am more productive in the early mornings and mid afternoons and I tend to eat most of my food mid day and eat lightly at night.

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