One In 300 People Have This Alteration In Their Sleep Cycle. Are You One Of Them? 

Contributing Health Writer By Gretchen Lidicker, M.S.
Contributing Health Writer
Gretchen Lidicker earned her master’s degree in physiology with a focus on alternative medicine from Georgetown University. She is the author of “CBD Oil Everyday Secrets” and “Magnesium Everyday Secrets.”

Image by fizkes / iStock

Are you early to sleep and early to rise? According to a new study, you might have a specific alteration in your sleep cycle, called advanced sleep phase, that affects one in 300 people.

Advanced sleep phase has everything to do with the circadian rhythm, also known as our body's internal clock. The circadian rhythm, among other things, is in charge of our sleep-wake cycle. In the morning, the body releases cortisol to get us up and out of bed. Later in the day, cortisol levels decline, and in the evening, the body releases melatonin, which is known as the "sleep hormone."

For those with advanced sleep phase, their body signals that it's time to hit the hay—by releasing melatonin and adjusting body temperature—as early as 8 p.m. They're also extreme morning people. As the study's senior author, Louis Ptacek, M.D., explained, "While most people struggle with getting out of bed at 4 or 5 a.m., people with advanced sleep phase wake up naturally at this time, rested and ready to take on the day. These extreme early birds tend to function well in the daytime but may have trouble staying awake for social commitments in the evening."

The authors of the study, researchers at UCSF School of Medicine, evaluated the sleep habits of more than 2,422 patients and found that around one in 300 met the criteria for advanced sleep phase. All participants were evaluated by the same neurologist and asked about their medical histories and current sleep habits. Data from sleep logs and tests that measured the participants' melatonin levels brainwaves, oxygen levels, and heart rate were also included in the evaluation.

The study, which was published in the journal SLEEP, also found that advanced sleepers are generally lighter sleepers and that they feel rested with fewer hours of sleep compared to people without the condition. For example, advanced sleepers get five to 10 minutes of extra sleep on the weekends while their family members with normal sleep phases get about 30 minutes of extra sleep on average.

All in all, this study concluded that advanced sleep phase is a lot more common than we suspected—and that it's not related to depression, aging, or any other factor that can affect our sleep. Instead, people with advanced sleep phase are, simply put, just morning people.

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