“Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” Or so the saying goes. But what happens when your hubby is the night owl and you are the early riser? Or the reverse? And what happens when the two of you try to navigate your different sleep rhythms while living in a 34-foot RV, or even less square footage? Yipes!
Why a night owl or early riser?
What causes one person to be an early riser and another a night owl? It’s our chronotype. Our chronotype is how our bodies react to different times of the day. Three types of chronotypes have been identified and generally accepted: morning, day, and night. Here’s more:
- Morning chronotypes are early birds. They awake early (sometimes without an alarm) and are most productive during the morning hours, but cannot stay awake for the ten o’clock news.
- Folks with a day chronotype, sleep in a bit later than early birds, but are most productive during the afternoon hours.
- Night chronotypes sleep much later into the day, and are most productive late into the night and even the very early morning hours.
As we age, our chronotype typically changes. Toddlers and young children usually get up early, while teens enjoy sleeping in and can function well into the late-night hours. Older adults tend to reverse back to a day or morning chronotype pattern.
Early birds are healthier than night owls
Studies have found that early birds are usually healthier than late owls. The reason? Early birds tend to get more exercise during their awake time. Night owls tend to be more sedentary, and need to make a special effort to make sure they get adequate movement into their day.
So, now you know. But so what?! I’m confident that I’m a morning chronotype and I’m equally sure that Hubby is a night chronotype, but now what? Do I tiptoe around the RV hoping not to wake him while I’m feeling energetic and ready to take on the day? Do I attempt to stay up late so we can share time and activities together once the sun sets? Maybe he should change. After all, it’s difficult to hike in the dark. Ditto for admiring the amazing scenery as we travel. Maybe we should just compromise: both of us try shifting to middle ground: day chronotype.
If you try to adjust your chronotype, take it slow. Wake/sleep patterns take time to change. Move your bedtime no more than 30 minutes. That means I’ll try to stay up 30 minutes longer before going to bed. Hubby will adjust his bedtime to 30 minutes sooner. Light therapy may help me stay awake longer and help Hubby wake up earlier in the morning. We’ll need to cut back (or eliminate) caffeine, naps, and alcohol. All-natural melatonin may help Hubby fall asleep sooner, too. Eventually, we’ll end up with wake/sleep patterns that are more in sync. Maybe. I hope, anyway!
How about you? Do you share the same chronotype as your travel buddy? If not, what adaptations have you made?