Is Your Bedtime Affecting Your Weight, Mood + Energy?

Is Your Bedtime Affecting Your Weight, Mood + Energy?

In This Article

Sleep: Let’s Get Back to Basics 

Sleep woman

Years ago, when I was touring with Deepak Chopra giving Ayurvedic consultations and lectures in different cities, I had a patient who complained of waking up with a headache every morning. I gave him an herbal protocol and three months later, I returned to his town. I saw him for a follow-up and he was, unfortunately, no better. I treated him again and, once again, his condition remained the same. 

sick puppy headache

These consultations on the road were designed to mirror an Ayurvedic consultation in India, a quick pulse reading followed by some recommendations. Realizing I must have missed something, I went back to the basics. I asked him when he goes to sleep and when he wakes up. He said he goes to sleep at 2am and wakes up at 11am. 

Oh boy, I thought, I really screwed up. This guy is simply sleeping at the wrong time! I told him to take out a boring book—not one of mine, of course—at about 9pm and as soon as his eyes get tired, turn off the lights and try to go to sleep. 

Then, in the morning, the very first time your eyes open, get out of bed. Do not roll over and go back to sleep, just get up—even if it is 5am. I asked him to call me in a week and give me a report. 

I received a call from him in just a couple of days. He told me that he followed my instructions, and he woke up for the first time in 10 years without a headache. While he was grateful, he proceeded to accuse me of stringing him along. He asked why I hadn’t given him this advice on that very first consult. Since then, I try to always look for the most simple and obvious solution first. 

Science Backing Ayurveda 

Recently, an Australian study evaluated the sleep habits of 2,200 kids randomly chosen between ages nine and 16 years. They divided the kids into four sleep pattern groups:1 

  1. Early-bed/Early-rise 
  2. Early-bed/Late-rise 
  3. Late-bed/Early-rise 
  4. Late-bed/Late-rise 

The results confirmed that when you get sleep may be just as important as how much sleep you get. 

Compared to the early-bed/early-rise group, the late-bed/late-rise adolescents: 

  • Had a higher Body Mass Index (BMI) 
  • Were 1.47 times more likely to be overweight 
  • Were 2.16 times more likely to be obese 
  • Were 1.77 times more likely to have less moderate-to-vigorous physical activity 
  • Were 2.92 times more likely to have higher screen time 

Ask Yourself . . . or Try Tonight! 

Imagine going to bed tonight at midnight and waking up at 10am. How would you feel? Groggy, stiff, achy, and dull? 

Now, imagine going to bed at 8pm and waking up at 6am. How would you feel in comparison? More energetic, clear, limber, and refreshed? 

lifespa, image, circadian medicine, sunset, clock

Both of these night’s sleep are 10 hours, but the difference in how you feel is dramatically different. 

It is easy to lose touch with our circadian clocks. In the modern world, so many of us are out of sync with natural rhythms. Luckily, it is easy to reset your clocks and reap the benefits of better, deeper, and more restorative sleep. 

We recommend "Anxious Teens? Melatonin Balances the Circadian Clock":

You Can Reset Your Circadian Clock

Recently research at Colorado University at Boulder studies the effect of living off the grid for a week or a weekend measuring the profound balancing effect it had on our circadian rhythms. The study took a group of Boulder residents who were self-proclaimed as healthy but when their circadian rhythms were evaluated they were way out of whack.  

After just one week of being on a wildness, off the grid camping trip their circadian clock was reset 100%. The group became early to bed and early risers. They naturally went to bed 2 hours earlier and woke up 2 hours earlier.  

lifespa image, circadian rhythms, sunrise on a mossy pine forest

They performed a second study and took a group on just a weekend camping trip and they had similarly powerful results. This group went to bed 1.5 hours earlier and got up 1.5 hours earlier in just a weekend. 

In just one weekend camping trip, the researchers observed that the campers were able to achieve around 69% of the circadian shift-benefits that were achieved by the entire week-long camping experience that reset their clocks 100%.2,3 

Your At-Home Weekend Sleep Cycle Reset 

Try some of these simple home strategies to help reset your circadian clock: 

  1. Take a weekend and turn off the Wi-Fi, lock away your cell phone, turn off all the lights and use candles or/and a fireplace for evening light. Get outside for a hike or walk as much as possible. Go to bed in the early evening at the first sign of sleepiness and get up in the morning when your eyes first open. Get outside and take a morning walk as you watch the sunrise. Enjoy! 
  2. During the week, turn off the house Wi-Fi after supper. Dim the house lights and avoid phones, televisions or computers. Go to bed reading a book by candlelight. 
  3. On your next camping trip, don’t miss the great opportunity to reset your clock. Don’t turn on your phone and avoid flashlights. Make torches and a campfire. Enjoy! 
  4. Consider getting outside and performing a yoga sequence, such as the Sun Salutation at sunrise and sunset. 

What times do you sleep? How does it make you feel? 

We recommend "Reset Your Circadian Clock This Weekend":

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Dr. John



18 thoughts on “Is Your Bedtime Affecting Your Weight, Mood + Energy?”

  1. Hello dr. John my problems sleeping I believe it’s my age and menopausal I can’t get to sleep at night my mind races and races so I take it as a Pam to go to bed every night but I always have a headache when I wake up I just can’t sleep anymore unless I take that and if I don’t then I have restless night sleep what do you think I might be able to do about that I would love to go to bed at 10:11 at night and wake up in the morning but it’s like not possible for me just wondering if you may be able to help thank you

  2. Are there any different recommendations regarding sleep for breastfeeding mothers? I’m still waking throughout the night every hour or two with my baby, and I cannot bring myself to get up at the time I used to in the morning!

    • Hi Heather. For now, be patient and gentle with yourself. This is a unique time in your life. Rest is important for both you and the baby. Be well.

  3. Hi Kathy,
    I had the exact problem you are having. There are a few things I did to get a good night sleep.
    * hot shower
    * massage with oil
    * went to bed by 10:00 pm -usually 9:15 , I read until I relax and my eyes are tried ( 1 paragraph)
    * take magnesium tab. or drink Calm
    * Take 1 Deep Sleep and Worry Free
    Peaceful sleep all night wake up rested and no headache

    Another possibility that could have helped with sleep was that I started taking amrit nectar and ambrosia in the morning.

  4. I just wanted to leave my comment in case anyone else has been unsuccessful in resetting their circadian rhythm, they may have Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder. These methods can alter our sleeping hours by a little bit so it makes it manageable, but still not perfect. I struggled my entire life to wake up at a normal hour. I suffered through my school years, getting bad grades and not fully waking up until around lunch time. Even when I’d go camping (as a child or adult), I felt more tired from being forced to get up when my tent hit 90 degrees by 7 am. Five years ago, I ended up in the hospital after being unable to sleep for a week because I was forced to work the morning shift (Up until then I had only worked nighttime hours since that was the only time my body was truly awake). I was diagnosed with Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder, and as far as I know, have never heard of anyone curing it completely. I have tried these methods, as well as about 20 other ways to sleep normal hours (including a sun lamp and prescription sleep pills). Even in the winter when the sun goes down at 5pm, the earliest I have ever been able to get to sleep was midnight. I go camping regularly every summer (now in a camper so I can actually get some sleep with the AC on) and still can’t wake up earlier than 10 am. I am curious if anyone else who has DSPS follows Ayurvedic practices. This sleep rule is the only one I can’t follow but I do everything else and I am completely healthy at age 48.

    • I haven’t been diagnosed with this but I am sure I have that. I go to sleep very late and have a lot of trouble waking up early (even if I have been asleep for 10 hours…) my doctor says my sleep hours are those of a bartender (which I am not). If I go to sleep early, say 10:00 pm and manage to fall asleep because I am very tired, I wake up 2-3 hours later and can’t go back to sleep the rest of the night (insomnia). I think my body thinks is a nap.
      So, I really struggle with this… any recommendations?

      • Hi Alejandra,

        Dr. John has lots of free articles on sleep that you may be interested in looking through for additional tips:

        I would suggest turning your screens off earlier each night and tucking in with a boring book at about 9pm so your eyes are tired and ready for sleep by 10pm. You can also experiment with melatonin supplementation, which Dr. John has written a lot about as well. If you are waking up in the middle of the night, his time-release Melatonin HP would be a good choice to help you stay asleep:

        There are lots more sleep tips so please read through Dr John’s articles on sleep at your convenience.

        LifeSpa Staff

  5. In the summer, when the sun setdown late (it can be still light around 10:00pm where i live) what is the best time to go to sleep? does midnight still consider late or it’s reasonable?

  6. Hello, when I was on the Colorado Cleanse this last spring I changed my sleeping patters, to get up most mornings by 6 and go to bed by 10. Although I successfully changed my sleep/wake times without an alarm clock, I never got over feeling extremely sleepy all day long, even though I had 7-8 hrs of sleep. After about 6 weeks I couldn’t put up with it any longer and went back to sleeping until 9 or 9:30. Do you have an idea what I could do to feel normal with the new sleep schedule? I do have a history of insomnia and use about 1/3 tablet of doxylamine succinate to help me fall & stay asleep.

    • I highly recommend the book, “Why We Sleep” by Matthew Walker. He is extremely knowledgable on the subject and goes over the difference between sleep and sedation brought on by sedatives.

    • Hi Divonna,

      Dr. John has written a lot about sleep and how sleeping pills aren’t always the best solution. Sedating an already exhausted person can leave you feeling groggy and more.

      The first article at this link goes into that, but there are so many articles on sleep in his archives, you may find something else beneficial for your unique situation in the other articles he has written:

      LifeSpa Staff

  7. OMG. I have proof of this. Yet it’s 1:20 am and I’m still up having passed my sleepy time. OK years ago in the northeast US here was an ice storm, called a once in a lifetime storm. It left me without power for one week! In a cabin in woods. After 2 days, with no electric hum, I was reading by candlelight. I became sleepy very soon in evening. AND WOKE UP AT THE CRACK OF DAWN.
    My body reset in days. All my life I”m like oh I”m a night owl. But to this day I remember how calm I felt and how my whole body shifted to match NATURE. It was profound.
    I’m a yoga and meditation teacher focused on teaching midlife women and know this but it’s still hard to implement what we know….

  8. Hi! Great article by Dr John, as usual.
    Lately I have made an amazing discovery: rocking on a rocking chair for about 20 minutes makes me sleep through the night like a baby. Before that I´ve had sleeping problems for almost 20 years. It doesn´t work for everybody though, but if people have a rocking chair it would certainly be worth trying.

    • This may mean that your body is having a hard time pumping the cerebral spinal fluid through your body. Any Chiropractor certified in SOT would be the health specialist to analyze such condition. That’s wonderful about the relief and the rocking chair. What are your thoughts Dr. Douillard?


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