Good sleep is essential for good health. And to get good sleep, you need to understand the circadian rhythm of your body better, or to put it more directly, you need to know how your body’s internal clockworks. That is where we come in. In today’s post, we will be discussing all that you need to know about circadian rhythm sleep. Understanding your circadian rhythm is crucial in order to identify circadian rhythm disorder or any other sleep disorders that might arise because you are not paying attention to your body’s internal clock.
First up, what is the circadian rhythm of your body? The circadian rhythm or the sleep and wake cycle of the body is a natural system that orchestrates the feelings of wakefulness and sleepiness in us. This system is very sophisticated, and therefore, is sensitive to a number of factors, most importantly light. This is because the circadian rhythm is controlled by a part of the brain that is responsive to light. This, in turn, explains why normally we feel alert and active when the sun is shining and feel tired and sleepy when it is dark.
Now that we know how the circadian rhythm is affected by lightness and darkness, it is not hard to understand why using an electronic device before bedtime can affect your sleep. When we expose our brain, in particular, a part of the hypothalamus to blue light emitted by electronic devices, we unknowingly dupe the brain into believing that it is still daytime. As a result, the brain releases less melatonin to ensure you stay alert and awake and do not fall asleep. This is usually one of the reasons why people find it hard to fall asleep nowadays.
Which brings us to the most obvious question, how does one ensure their circadian rhythm works effectively? According to studies, one of the best ways to keep the internal body clock working normally is to come up with good sleep habits and to stick to them. Saying no to devices at least an hour before bed is crucial as it gives the brain the time it needs to release enough melatonin for you to feel sleepy and then drift off to dreamland.
While at night you can limit your exposure to light, in the morning trying to get as much sunlight as you can. Go for a morning walk, or have your lunch at a park, sit near the window where there is ample natural light, etc. The idea here is to keep you alert, awake, and feeling alive throughout the day.
The third habit that you can pick, which is especially easy now that we are all social distancing and staying mostly at home, is to stick to a regular bedtime. Try to go to bed and wake up at a fixed time every day. This will set your internal body clock to normal again.