Dedicated To Mumbai
Home > Mumbai Mix > GOOD MORNING, OR NIGHT?


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise — we’ve been taught this since childhood. However, the Mumbai Mix Team is here to tell you why being a late riser isn’t always a bad thing!

Over the past several centuries, being an early riser has been associated with achievement and success. After all, the early bird gets the worm, right? However, there is a category of people who simply cannot wake up at sunrise. And, believe it or not, it isn’t always their fault. We are quick to assume that late risers are lazy, stay up too late on purpose and we don’t bother to give this notion a second thought. But, is there more to the late riser than bad habits and laziness? Could there be a genetic basis for this ‘drowsy every morning’ state of being? We tell you everything that you need to know about the late sleep phase and why we need to be more accepting of it.


The word chronotype is a biology term that is used to spell out when an animal is active and the time of day that it sleeps. Even humans have an inborn chronotype, and this may not be the same for everyone. There are three different chronotypes in humans, loosely referred to as morning people, evening people and those in between. And, this isn’t something you can change to suit your fancy. Just like your height is determined by your genes, your chronotype is written in your DNA.

Delayed sleep phase is a disorder in which a person’s internal clock is permanently out of sync with the rest of the world. This doesn’t mean that they need more sleep than the average person — just that their bodies prefer to begin their seven or eight hour cycle after 2 or 3am.

We spoke to Dr. Ashish Gambre, a psychiatrist at SRV Hospital, to find out more about chronotypes and how they affect us. “A chronotype (with respect to sleep), refers to the time during the day that an individual falls asleep and wakes up.

Some people wake up early in the morning and are their most active selves then. Some people, however, sleep late at night and their brains are more active during the evening and at night. These types often have a hard time waking up or focusing on anything early in the day, even if they have gone to bed at what we commonly deem a ‘respectable hour’. If, in either case, these in-built sleep patterns and tendencies interfere with daily life, the person is said to have a circadian rhythm disorder.”

He adds, “A circadian rhythm is a (roughly) 24-hour cycle in the physiological process of living beings. Circadian rhythms are endogenously generated — which means that they are generated from within the body — but can be modulated by external factors such as light, temperature, food habits and so on. Simply put, an advanced sleep phase syndrome involves sleeping early and then waking up early, while a delayed sleep phase syndrome involves sleeping late and, in turn, waking up at a later hour.”


You’d be surprised to learn that not only is being a late sleeper chronotype genetic, it is also inheritable. Even though it’s not very clear how genes affect a person’s body clock, a study that was conducted on a rural Brazilian family in 2014 concluded that about half the difference in chronotypes can be explained by genetics. This means that you could have inherited your late sleeping habits from either of your parents, and you can pass them on to your children! In fact, a team of researchers from the United States and Canada have identified a specific genetic variant that appears to determine whether a person will be an early bird, a night owl or somewhere in between.


Our circadian rhythms, which are controlled by our brains, tell our bodies when to sleep and help to regulate other biological processes as well. However, having this sort of “social jetlag” is a nightmare, because you are often out of sync with society, a situation that leads to stress and impacts your immunity. People who experience this social jetlag tend to oversleep on their holidays, which has a domino effect — they then remain sleepy through the rest of the week. A correlated European study that analysed chronotypes also indicated that short sleep for chronotypes may also lead to a greater risk of depression and that these people are more likely to engage in bad habits such as smoking. Shortened sleep may also be linked to other issues such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity.


Our body doesn’t play to the 24-hour cycle like you might think it does. It has its own 24.3-hour cycle and so, our body is constantly trying to adapt to the man-made 24-hour system. This body cycle can range from 24.5 to 24.7 hours, making it difficult for people of the late chronotype to adjust.

Brain control
The suprachiasmatic (yes, it’s a mouthful!) nucleus, which is a tiny region in your brain that works as its master clock, helps us to bridge the gap between the regular 24-hour system and our body’s own rhythms, taking care of a difference of about 18 minutes. It also plays a role in controlling our circadian rhythms.

External factors
Based on the light during the day and the darkness at night, our brains set their internal clock for sleep. But, since we are now exposed to so much light even after the sun goes down (this includes late-night binge-watching and scrolling through your smartphone), our sleep patterns are affected.

What can you do about it?
To be completely honest, nothing. We can’t change our chronotype, because it is a natural thing. However, you can change and adapt your behaviour to protect yourself from it. Dr. Gambre explains, “The main problem with this syndrome is that a person is out of sync with the rest of society, and this often affects work life, family life and several other aspects. Treatments include phototherapy, maintaining good sleep hygiene and prescribed medication. These help to adjust sleep patterns into a schedule that can allow people to balance out their lifestyle.” Here’s what you can do to get a grip on your erratic sleep patterns.

  • Limit your exposure to light when you go to bed by sleeping in a gadget-free space. Also, plan most of your activities for early in the day and try to stick to them. During this time you can focus on all the work that requires phones, computers or a TV, so it is not pending for night-time.
  • Plan your day in a way that ensures you are indeed exhausted by the end of it. Keep your room clean as well — change bed sheets often and ensure that you have a proper bed and a comfortable mattress. Try to fix the time you go to bed and don’t consume stimulants such as coffee or large amounts of food just before bedtime.
  • The hormone melatonin helps to control your sleep cycles. A very small amount of it is found in fruits and vegetables, and you can also get it as a supplement. Incorporating melatonin in your diet can help you fall asleep faster. However, make sure that you consult a doctor about dosage and other factors before starting on any type of medication.

Sleep Well

We asked people to narrate their experiences about battling the late sleeper chronotype

Out of sync
I feel sleepy all the time. For me, getting up early is a pain and if I do ever get up early, I simply go back to sleep! It’s as if my body is synced to the European time zone. I just try to get up early when I have an important appointment in the morning. I did try to put my phone away and check social media only when I would wake up — sometimes it worked, but I gave up on such tricks because I just feel like I want to sleep more!
— Drishti Harlalka, Mira Road

Tried but failed
It’s really tough for me to get up early in the morning. I have tried to set a routine, but I was always tired, sleep deprived and exhausted. My schedule has me staying awake till late at night. In fact, my body is so adapted to the late-night routine that when do I try to sleep on time, I don’t  sleep well at all! However, I try to make up for the lost sleep during the week or on off days. Though getting seven to eight hours of sleep and keeping my body hydrated is important, I think that ‘me’ time is also important. People who have trouble adjusting to an early sleep cycle should eat and drink healthy, exercise, play a sport and try to stay positive. This could help them focus more through the day and might even help them sleep on time at night! 
— Ayushi Garg, Churchgate

No Comments Posted
I am 27-year-old educated guy and will get marrie
Dr. Rajan B. Bhonsle, M.D. (Bom)
Consulting Sex Therapist & Counsellor
Dr. (Mrs.) Minnu R. Bhonsle, Ph.D.
Consulting Psychotherapist & Counsellor
Select Sun sign:
Aries (Mar 21 - Apr 20)
Aries (Mar 21 - Apr 20)News or a message from afar is favorable. This piece of news requires you to work overtime that could upset your plans for other important issues Since you cannot change your agenda at short notice there could be an overlapping of appointments. Some happy event taking place in your family will turn the family atmosphere into a festival of sorts. All differences and discord vanish.
Tarot for Love
Select Sun sign:
Aries (Mar 21 - Apr 20)
Aries (Mar 21 - Apr 20)The cards say be generous and don’t expect returns. Try not to be calculating. Taurus will cool you down. Avoid Cancer and their clinging ways. Your card for the week is the Tarot key no III The Empress. Abundance is coming your way. Giving and enjoy giving is the way to richness.
- Advertising -
Read More