How to Honor Your Circadian Rhythm for the Best Sleep of Your Life
The best things in life happen in rhythm. Just like music, ocean waves, and heartbeats, our internal biology operates with rhythmic timing. Pretty awesome! Especially when you realize that we’re equipped with a clock that’s influenced by the earth’s revolutions and light from the sun! This internal clock is known as our circadian rhythm and allows our bodies to instinctively know when its time to do things like go to sleep and wake up.
While everyone is born with this internal clock, day to day life creates a lot of opportunities to disturb the regularity of its rhythm. Things like your surrounding environment and how well you take care of yourself can push the rhythm out of balance, causing negative impacts on your well-being. This article will take a look at how you can keep your internal timekeeper ticking accurately, so you always feel rested and refreshed!
What is the Circadian Rhythm?
While you may have heard of the circadian rhythm, you might not know this daily cycle has everything to do with two important hormones: cortisol and melatonin. Basically, the hormone cortisol is supposed to crest in the morning, helping to wake you up and make you feel alert and ready crush the day. Later in the evening, melatonin starts to climb and encourages you to wind down. But the problem is that these hormones are sometimes thrown out of whack, leaving you drowsy all day, or wide awake at night.
Let’s explore a few ways to keep these hormones balanced to keep your sleep-wake cycle in check.
A Circadian Rhythm-Friendly Lifestyle
Even though your circadian rhythm is susceptible to disruptions, you have the power to bring it back on track with a few simple lifestyle changes.
Natural Light Exposure
The sun is nature’s clock, influencing plants, animals, and humans alike. And while light is crucial in establishing the circadian rhythm, not all light is created equal. Lux is the way we measure light which factors both brightness and distance. Natural light has way more Lux more than artificial light, and it’s way better at setting your internal clock. Even on an overcast day, the Lux of sunlight is still ten times more powerful than artificial light!
If you’d like to get a more balanced sleep/wake cycle, try exposing yourself to natural light in the morning and during the day, while dimming the lights inside your home once the evening sets in. You’ll also want to limit your exposure to the TV or LED screens an hour or so before bed so your body can produce the melatonin it needs to feel sleepy.
The Great Outdoors
One of the best ways to get more natural light exposure is to spend more time outdoors. While a nice big window is lovely, nothing beats the fresh air, and exercise opportunities of being outside. You’ll get more sunshine to help awaken your senses, balance your cortisol levels, and deliver a healthy dose of vitamin D.
And if you’re feeling especially adventurous, take a few days to go camping without any electronics. Research shows that you can completely reset your circadian rhythm if you spend a few days allowing the sun to dictate when you to go be and wake up.
Good Sleep Hygiene
Keeping to a sleep schedule is one of the best ways to regulate your circadian rhythm. It’s easy to dial in a better schedule when you devote your bedroom to only sleep and sex. As tempting as it may be, finishing up a project on your laptop in bed will cause your brain to associate your bed with work, making it harder to fall asleep. It’s best to just put down all electronics an hour before bed and try other more sleep-friendly activities like journaling, reading, or listening to soft music.
Do your best to avoid activities that can throw off your circadian rhythm. So, if you must take a nap during the day, try limiting it to no more than 20 or 30 minutes. Fight the temptation to indulge in that after dinner cup of coffee, and opt for some herbal tea instead. Need to get into the mood for sleep? Draw yourself a warm bath with some lavender oil instead of that go-to glass of wine. Engaging in these types of healthy bedtime routines will make falling asleep much easier, and help you stick to a healthy sleep schedule to further balance your circadian rhythm.
At Incann, we believe that living with intention is the key to achieving your potential. By taking a few simple actions, you can help your body get in sync with the natural cycles of the earth. Intentionally honoring your circadian rhythm will help you wake up feeling refreshed each day, and ready to create the life you dream of.