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Tired in the morning and awake at night? Here is a REAL solution.

Tired in the morning and awake at night?  Here is a REAL solution.

Ever since high school, I’ve had a peculiar problem.

No matter how little sleep I get the entire week, no matter how much I avoid caffeine, no matter how much exercise I do…I am wide awake in the middle of the night doing my best work!

Often my most productive hours are between midnight and 2 or 3AM, even if I’ve gotten only a few hours sleep the night before and been up for 18 hours.

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It’s truly a bizarre pattern of dead tired mornings, walking around like a jet-lagged zombie, followed by a tortuous afternoon in desperate need of a nap, and finally an evening where I start to wake up.

“What could be wrong with me?” I wondered for years. Surely this was not a normal way to live!

As it turns out, I’m not alone with this small problem. Like others, I eventually managed to deal with it (taking only afternoon classes while in college, and starting my own business to set my own hours). But it always bothered me because everyone I met didn’t seem to understand my problem.

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I tried every piece of advice that I heard: “Read before bed”, “Drink a glass of warm milk”, “No caffeine after noon”, but it didn’t seem to work. I even spoke to several doctors about it who didn’t have any good answers. Even if I forced myself to get in bed at a reasonable hour, sure enough, I would toss and turn until 3AM before finally falling asleep.

If this sounds like a problem you have, then I’m here to help, because you may have something called “Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome”.

It’s a well documented sleep disorder that goes undiagnosed (or misdiagnosed) by the vast majority of doctors today. You can read more about it in this excellent article

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As you may recall, everyone has a biological clock, known as a circadian rhythm, that regulates when we are awake and when we feel tired. People with delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS for short) tend to have:

  • A shifted circadian rhythm
  • A longer than normal circadian rhythm

The second one in particular is difficult to live with because it causes you to operate on a 25 (or more) hour day. Each morning you want to sleep in a bit later, and each night you want to stay up a bit later. The world is moving too fast for your biological clock, so you are always a bit behind!

After trying everything under the sun to correct this efficiency problem in my life (since it was certainly affecting my productivity), I finally stumbled upon light therapy. It sounds bizarre, but you can actually use light to reset your biological clock. In particular, certain wave lengths of light seem to work better than others.

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Thinking back to the caveman days, life was very simple getting plenty of sunlight during the day and it being pitch black at night. Our brains evolved to operated on this schedule over millions of years, but with today’s society full of artificial lights and plenty of activities to stay up for, some of our brains (mine included) have gotten confused.

Simply getting some sunlight early in the morning can help reset your biological clock, but for those who are in an office building, there are some simple light therapy devices that can help reset your biological clock. One that I’ve used and would recommend is the Apollo GoLite.

I use this for about 30 minutes each morning, shining some blue wavelength light on myself, and after about the first week of using it my entire sleep cycle had been reset. Getting up a regular hour no longer felt like I had just been awoken in the middle of the night! It was truly remarkable because after years of struggling with this problem, I finally found something that worked.

So stop trying to drink ten cups of coffee each morning, setting two alarms, and sneaking off to your car during your lunch hour to catch a nap! You might just have delayed sleep phase syndrome, and you can do something about it with light therapy!

Brian Armstrong is an authority on time management and how to quit your job to work for yourself! You can download three FREE chapters of his book and sign up for his free online course, “Successful Entrepreneurship”, by clicking here now: Start Your Own Business

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How To Instantly Feel Better When You Are Depressed 8 Essential Skills They Didn’t Teach You In School How To Make A Bunch Of New Friends In Any New City Tired in the morning and awake at night? Here is a REAL solution. How to Launch a Business Without Spending a Dime

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

More About Goals Setting

Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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