How to Get the Most out of your Day Through the Power of Your Circadian Rhythm
By Jade Mesquita
Each cell in our body has its own clock. This clock informs the cells in our bodies when it’s time to rest, exert energy, or perform a task, just like having times when we sleep, wake up, eat, and work. When we align our body’s internal clock—our Circadian Rhythm—with our schedule, we can optimize our energy and help our cells work efficiently. By working harmoniously with our bodies, we can ditch that third cup of coffee and FEEL good throughout the day.
The Circadian Rhythm affects hormone and protein receptors that control our:
Mood & motivation
Disease development and progression
This makes the circadian rhythm vital for proper cell regeneration and a healthy life. Many of our bodily functions are based on the circadian rhythm, not just sleep. One thing that remains constant in this fast-paced life is the sun rises and sets every 24 hours. And as it turns out, that fact is an extremely important part of living creatures’ lives (plants, animals, humans, and all species of microorganisms).
So, what is your Circadian Rhythm and how can you optimize it?
In simpler terms, it is the 24-hour biological clock that is built into your brain. It is the reason your hormones and neurotransmitters control sleep and wakefulness. This master circadian clock consists of a group of neurons called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) located in the hypothalamus of your brain. It helps our body correspond to function based on the time of day.
Our circadian rhythm regulates the amount of time we sleep, the quality of our sleep, and level of cellular regeneration when we are asleep. Scientific studies have shown that a disrupted circadian rhythm can contribute to inflammatory diseases; a weakened immune system; an increase in cortisol; increased rates of anxiety, depression, and fatigue; and an accelerated aging process.
Now that you know a little about the importance of the circadian rhythm, how can you optimize it?
Four factors determine your Circadian Rhythm:
Since our bodies respond to visual cues in our environment, primarily light and darkness, to release neurotransmitters and hormones that keep us alert and awake during the day or prepare us for sleep and repair, you can use these tools to optimize your day.
Three ways to adopt a circadian-rhythm-friendly morning routine for an energized day:
1. Wake with the Sun
The optimal wake-up time is between 6 to 7 am, to wake up with the sun. Having a schedule where you sleep and wake up at the same time is best. Embrace routine! Having a morning routine can set up your day for success while also maintaining a strong circadian rhythm. Try to wake up without an alarm, or set your alarm to wake you up with gentle bird sounds, just as our ancestors did.
2. Bring on the Light
Get exposure to bright light within the first 30 minutes of waking to trigger receptors in your brain that it’s morning; natural light is preferred.
3. Get your MOVE on
Get your move on, whether it’s dance, yoga, a walk, or a workout, it’ll make your body produce cAMP and Orexin which are hormones that wake up your circadian rhythm and give you energy. Throughout the day, try to get outside for some sun exposure and movement.
Three ways to adopt a circadian-rhythm-friendly night routine for restful sleep:
Once evening sets in, start dimming out blue light (TV, computer, and phone screens). Switch from artificial light to red or orange lights, such as Himalayan salt lamps. When blue light goes down, melatonin goes up, as well as prolactin and growth hormone, which controls autophagy and cell cleaning, while preventing neurodegeneration, cancer, and aging. A pair of blue-light-blocking glasses could help as well.
2. Increase Cold Temperature
Increase cold temperature 1 to 2 hours before bed; optimally 61-68 degrees Fahrenheit. The cold temperature signals your body it’s time to get cozy in bed. If you’ve been told to take a hot shower before bed, it’s the coldness after the shower that helps you get sleepy rather than the heat.
3. Sleep in the dark with white noise
To get high-quality, deep, and uninterrupted sleep try to blackout your room so you can sleep in total darkness. Calming music such as white or pink noise can also help aid in insomnia. This can be in the form of a fan, air purifier, rain, or nature sounds, but do not use headphones.
To reset your biological clock, you need to honor a schedule that favors your body’s metabolic rhythm. When you deprive yourself of quality sleep or mess with your sleep schedule, you hinder the brain’s ability to function at peak efficiency. In a world so fast-paced, slow down and embrace a morning and night routine. It may make a significant difference in the quality of your life.