night owls advice

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Rule #2: Get Bright Light as Soon as You Get Up

When you're late to bed, late to rise, you're probably spending most of your waking hours in minimal sunlight. That's bad news for your mood. Light is a powerful mood influencer, and with your schedule, "You're basically giving yourself Seasonal Affective Disorder," says Michael Grandner, PhD, assistant professor and director of the Sleep and Health Research Program and the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Clinic at the University of Arizona. (Not to mention the fact that people who are genetically predisposed to late bedtimes may also be more likely to develop depression.) Grandner's recommendation: Get bright light as soon as you wake up. Light boxes (which mimic superbright morning sunlight) work well, but so does the old-fashioned method of actually going outside. Aim for 20 to 30 minutes of bright light as soon after you wake up as possible. As a bonus, a dose of light first thing can help you move your bedtime up, if that's something you're interested in doing. (Grandner tells patients to combine light as early as possible with minimal artificial light at night to break the night-owl mold.) And we hope it goes without saying that if you think you're suffering from depression, ask your doctor for help.