How To Reset Your Circadian Rhythm
Do you sometimes wake up minutes before your alarm is due to go off? You can thank your circadian rhythm for that!
Circadian rhythms are the body’s 24-hour cycle internal clock that carry out essential functions such as digestion, hormone regulation and, last but not least, sleep. When your circadian rhythm is off balance, it can cause sleeping problems like difficulty falling and staying asleep. Vice versa, when it’s on track, your wake and sleep patterns will be more consistent.
Sound good? Here are some tips that might help you get your sleep schedule back on track.
Wake Up and Tuck In at The Same Time
The easiest way to get your sleep schedule on track is by waking up and going to bed at the same time every day. If you wake up at seven in the morning for work, you should stick to that time on the weekend too. On nights when you are not going out, whenever possible, also try get into bed at the same time. This will signal to your body to start creating a routine of 'shutting down' and 'waking up' at these times. Note: while initially establishing your circadian rhythm timings, you will need to set your alarm clock, just in case. With time and consistency, your body will naturally wake at the same time.
Don’t Hit Snooze
Sure, those extra five minutes of sleep sound lush after your alarm goes off but it does more harm than good. Snoozing an extra five minutes prepares your body for another sleep cycle. Because of this, we might wake up in the middle of REM or deep sleep, the restorative part of sleep that will cause you to feel tired and disoriented if interrupted. If you find it difficult getting out of bed in the a.m, try placing your alarm clock far away from your bed. This way, the battle is half won and you’re forced to get out of bed to turn it off.
Expose Yourself to Sunlight
Try catch at least fifteen minutes of sunlight upon waking. Sunlight contains vitamin D which helps the body absorb calcium and phosphate - which encourages wakefulness but also makes it easier for you to fall asleep that night. If it’s not so sunny outside, you can invest in a SAD light (we love Lumie) which mimics the sunset and sunrise.
Keep Naps Short
We love naps – but try limit them to 20 minutes, as longer naps can leave you feeling fatigued (as you get into the deep sleep territory again). Napping for just 20 minutes is scientifically proven to make you more energetic and alert upon waking. What is the best time of day for a nap? Between 2:00pm and 3:00pm, after you’ve eaten lunch and have had a dip in energy and blood sugar levels. Avoid napping after 3:00pm so as not to throw off your circadian rhythm.
Be Gentle with Yourself
Last but not least, be gentle with yourself. Resetting your circadian rhythm can take 1-2 weeks. If you find it difficult to fall asleep within 20 minutes or so, get out of bed and go to another area in your home and do something relaxing like meditating, listening to soothing music or reading a book.
You'll soon be waking up and dropping off without any help in no time.
Written by our lovely intern, Ashlynn Propes