Listening to Your Circadian Rhythm
For many, the most painful sound in their lives is the sound of the alarm clock going off in the morning.
After sluggishly struggling through the morning routine, many people will pound coffee to get that feeling of awake and alertness and will find themselves grumpy and snappy at people, just because of lack of sleep.
Sleep is one of the most basic things our bodies need for our overall health and wellness, yet we’re all too ready to put it low on our priority list. The American Sleep Association estimates between 40 and 70 million adults in the US struggle to get enough sleep as a result of a sleep disorder, which ranges from insomnia to restless legs syndrome, or sleep apnea.
It’s typically recommended that adults get at least 7 hours of sleep every 24 hours. Anything lower than 6 hours per night can result in sleep deprivation. People nowadays wear their sleeplessness or tiredness as a badge of honor, somehow believing that how tired we are is a connection to our business, success, or devotion to getting things done.
What’s the answer to better sleep? Various sleep experts are telling people to “do this, read this, try this, take this, drink this, and you’ll have a better sleep”, yet still so many people are struggling with getting enough sleep. A lot of times, sleep practitioners have little regard for the internal systems that already exist within our bodies.
In comes your circadian rhythm.
What is Your Circadian Rhythm?
Your circadian rhythm is the internal clock that tells you when to rest, and when you’re energetic and awake.
The circadian rhythm or internal clock is not the same as your “biological clock”, which relates more to life cycles and life stages of when the body changes.
Your circadian rhythm is a 24-hour cycle, mostly regulated by patterns of light and darkness and results in physical, mental and behavioral responses in all living things.
Chronobiology is the scientific study of the circadian rhythm. Chronobiology investigates how the circadian rhythm regulates your body’s functions during certain parts of your sleep and waking periods, including brain wave activity, hormonal functions, cell regeneration, sexual behavior, and other critical biological functions, and most importantly sleep.
Connecting Your Circadian Rhythm to Sleep
At the very simplest level, when it gets dark outside, your brain’s hypothalamus is activated, releasing the hormone melatonin. Melatonin, known as the “sleep hormone”, is then triggered by the dark, leading your brain to produce serotonin, which is the hormone linked to energy and feeling awake. Your serotonin production is directly related to the amount of light you’re exposed to, with the serotonin kicking into the high drive when you're exposed to the natural light of day.
This is how the circadian sleep cycle works. It involves reaching a balance of time, light, dark, and hormones that help you live (and sleep) at your optimal levels.
Here are some ways to incorporate your circadian rhythm into your sleep habits:
Embrace Light and Dark
Use the natural cycles of light and dark to your advantage, even as the seasons change.
Take advantage of the summer where it does get dark a little later, and light a little early. You’ll be thankful for the long nights, and the early mornings, where you can get in some productive activities before your day even starts. Yes, this means to become a morning person! In the winter, embrace the coziness of the dark and cold evenings. Go to bed early and take advantage of all the extra ZZZ's you can in those dark and crisp mornings.
Be as strict with yourself about your bedtime as your parents were with you, or as you are with your kids. If you know you’ll be experiencing a sleep interruption due to scheduling or travel or work, take precautions to make up for the sleep you will be losing.
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Sleep your way into better energy throughout the day by using the natural forces of the sun and the moon, the power of your circadian rhythm, discipline, and experiment with your favorite herb with the terpene enhancement of Meraki Tips.