You might have heard of it around the gram. But what exactly is the circadian rhythm?
Well, it is no secret that your beautiful body is a unique and complex "machine." It does so many amazing things! One of them is that it has a clock. Oh, yea, time is real for your body, but I'm not talking about a clock connected with your apple watch. Your body's clock is connected to something much cooler: nature.
Your circadian rhythm is a 24-hour cycle that is part of your body's internal clock,
which guides your body to do certain things at certain times. Cool right?
This is why you wake up without an alarm and get sleepy at night,
AKA, the sleep-wake cycle.
But how does it work?
Your brain has something called the circadian pacemaker; this is your body's master clock located in your hypothalamus. This area of the brain is sensitive to light; this is how it stays calibrated even if you move from New York to Japan. Your body will adapt depending on the environment. This is why you get jet lag when you travel a long distance.
Okay, but why is this important?
When you live in harmony with your circadian rhythm, your sleep will be restorative and healthy. But when the circadian rhythm is thrown off, it can create terrible sleeping problems, like insomnia and sleep deprivation. Not sleeping enough can lead to increased stress, depression, slow metabolism, immunosuppression, and increased risk of developing chronic illnesses like diabetes and heart disease. NOT GOOD FOR BUSINESS.
And tell me about your hormones...
When you don't live connected with your circadian rhythm, your hormones may go out of balance. Your melatonin and cortisol levels can be negatively impacted as well as your glucose and cholesterol. Also, your hunger regulating and growth hormones will suffer from poor sleeping habits. When you sleep, not only are you resting to wake up fresh and rested. You need to sleep at least 7-9 hours as a healthy adult to help your entire body repair and reset itself. So you better get to catching those Zzz's!
If you have trouble falling asleep, wake up during the night, or can't sleep as long as you want into the morning, your circadian rhythm may be out of balance. Things like staring at your phone or TV before bed, your late social life, traveling, irregular bedtime and wake up times, and even too many lights around your house at night can all mess up with your circadian rhythm.
So, how do I get in tune with my circadian rhythm?
Say hello to the sun every morning, even if it's cloudy. Exposure to natural light, especially early in the day, helps your internal clock to recalibrate itself.
Get your bedtime set: Going to bed every day at a different time does not allow your body to know when to "turn on" melatonin (your wind-down hormone), making it harder for you to feel sleepy, relaxed, and ready to sleep. Also, wake up every day at the same time, even during the weekends! I know that sounds horrible, but once you get in tune with your circadian rhythm, you won't feel tired in the morning! = more weekends for you to enjoy :)
Break a daily sweat: Physical activity has been linked to improved sleep quality. Even with 20-minute walks, you can improve the quality of your sleep, and mood!
Avoid caffeine: I know coffee lovers… bummer. You don't have to cut it out forever like I did (to manage stress) Although I totally recommend that you give living without coffee a try if you don't want to stop it, make sure you do not have any caffeine after 12 pm.
Disconnect to connect: Artificial light exposure at night can interfere with circadian rhythm. Put away laptops, TV, phone, tablet. Get a book instead or listen to some relaxing music.
Dim out your lights. The darker it is around you at night, the easier it will be for your body to know it's time to go to bed.
Nap if you have to: But always keep them short. 20-minute power naps are great if you feel too tired during the day, but it is still best to give your best during the day and then sleep like a log at night!
Now you know that you have a master clock inside you. Put it to use if you
want to promote optimal health, hormonal balance, and prevent disease.
Connect with yourself, be well, and sleep tight!
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