Waking Up at 4 A.M. Every Day Is the Key to Success. Or to Getting a Cold.

Lots of prominent people like to highlight how early they rise, but is it really something to brag about? DrLullaby’s founder, Lisa Medalie, PsyD, DBSM contributes to this New York Times article, explaining the effects of sleep pattern changes that can lead to chronic sleep deprivation among other issues. She also gives tips on how to become more of a morning person. What if I don’t need that much sleep? “There are a handful of people who can function adequately on a shorter sleep duration than the average person, but it’s very, very rare,” Dr. Medalie said. Missing even two hours here, an hour there, then having a wildly different sleep pattern over the weekend, is the gateway drug to chronic sleep deprivation. Fatigue, irritability and overall mental confusion are the dangers and symptoms of such deprivation. But you may be able to adjust your schedule. “If you are not a morning lark but want to be one, you would need to wake at that 5 a.m. every day, including weekends, and expose yourself to bright light, ideally blue light, for 15 to 20 minutes upon waking,” Dr. Medalie said. The trouble is, you have to stick to that new schedule or you’ll just get sucked back into the rabbit hole. But would you still face these issues if you sleep for eight hours and wake up at 4 a.m.? “The reason is that our circadian rhythm tells our brain when to produce melatonin, our sleep hormone, so if you try to wake while your brain is still producing melatonin, you could feel excessive daytime sleepiness, low energy, decline in mood and cognitive impact,” said Lisa Medalie, a behavioral sleep medicine specialist at the University of Chicago Sleep Disorders Center.