The Night Owl
Her challenge: Nicole Williams, 42, a married homemaker and freelance camerawoman from Los Angeles, has always been nocturnal, but the situation has gotten worse since the birth of her child, four years ago. She grows more alert late at night, then stays up until about 3 a.m., watching TV, reading, clearing out e-mail, and organizing things for her family. Her daughter wakes her up at 7:30 a.m., and Nicole says she then feels “dangerously drowsy, irritated, and exhausted all day long.” She almost never naps and normally uses the time when her daughter is at school to work or get other things done. Both prescription and over-the-counter sleep medications have worked, but Nicole worries about being groggy in the morning and doesn’t want to become reliant on them. She has also tried aromatherapy, warm drinks before bed, and meditation.
Expert advice: To start slowing down and readying herself for an earlier bedtime, psychologist Rubin Naiman suggests blocking blue light. “The blue end of the light spectrum―emitted by ordinary lightbulbs, televisions, and computer screens―suppresses melatonin,” says Naiman. Nicole might consider buying special lightbulbs as well as blue-blocker filters (available at lowbluelights.com) for her TV and computer screen (if she insists on checking her e-mail) and reducing the amount of light in general. “Being exposed to too much light at night is the environmental equivalent of caffeine,” says Naiman. So at least two hours before bed, dim the lights. In addition, Nicole needs to find time earlier in the day for catching up on e-mail and organizing.