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Resetting the late timing of ‘night owls’ has a positive impact on mental health and performance

Facer-Childs, Elise R., Middleton, Benita, Skene, Debra J. and Bagshaw, Andrew P. (2019) Resetting the late timing of ‘night owls’ has a positive impact on mental health and performance Sleep Medicine, 60. pp. 236-247.

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Abstract

Background

There is conflict between living according to our endogenous biological rhythms and our external environment, with disruptions resulting in negative consequences to health and performance. This is often documented in shift work and jet lag, but ‘societal norms’ (eg, typical working hours) can create profound issues for ‘night owls’, people whose internal biological timing predisposes them to follow an unusually late sleep-wake cycle. Night owls have also been associated with health issues, mood disturbances, poorer performance and increased mortality rates.

Methods

This study used a randomized control trial design aimed to shift the late timing of night owls to an earlier time (phase advance), using non-pharmacological, practical interventions in a real-world setting. These interventions targeted light exposure (through earlier wake up/sleep times), fixed meals times, caffeine intake and exercise.

Results

Overall, participants demonstrated a significant advance of ~2 h in sleep/wake timings as measured by actigraphy and circadian phase markers (dim light melatonin onset and peak time of the cortisol awakening response), whilst having no adverse effect on sleep duration. Notably, the phase advance was accompanied by significant improvements to self-reported depression and stress, as well as improved cognitive (reaction time) and physical (grip strength) performance measures during the typical 'suboptimal morning hours.

Conclusions

Our findings propose a novel strategy for shifting clock timing towards a pattern that is more aligned to societal demands that could significantly improve elements of performance, mental health and sleep timing in the real world.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences > School of Biosciences and Medicine
Authors :
NameEmailORCID
Facer-Childs, Elise R.
Middleton, BenitaB.Middleton@surrey.ac.uk
Skene, Debra J.D.Skene@surrey.ac.uk
Bagshaw, Andrew P.
Date : August 2019
Funders : Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Wellcome Trust
DOI : 10.1016/j.sleep.2019.05.001
Copyright Disclaimer : © 2019. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
Uncontrolled Keywords : Chronotype; Circadian phase markers; Non-pharmacological interventions; Depression; Stress; Performance
Depositing User : Diane Maxfield
Date Deposited : 27 Jun 2019 13:36
Last Modified : 14 Aug 2019 14:33
URI: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/id/eprint/852169

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