Many people have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep due to disrupted circadian rhythms. But what exactly is a circadian rhythm and why is it so important for our sleep?
Our circadian rhythm is a 24-hour cycle controlled by a specific area of the brain, known as the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). It is influenced by light, particularly sunlight, and regulates the production of the hormone melatonin which helps us sleep. When our circadian rhythm is disrupted, it can lead to poor sleep quality, insomnia and even long-term health problems such as diabetes, obesity and depression.
So, what causes our circadian rhythm to go haywire? The most common causes include social jet lag (staying up late on weekends), late eating and drinking, and exposure to blue light from screens. All of these can throw our body's internal clock out of sync and make it harder to fall asleep.
Fixing our circadian rhythm can improve our well-being and make us better in several ways:
Improved Sleep Quality: A healthy circadian rhythm can help regulate our sleep-wake cycle, making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. Getting enough restful sleep is essential for our overall well-being, as it allows our body to repair and rejuvenate.
Better Mental Health: A disrupted circadian rhythm can lead to an imbalance in hormone production, which can affect our mood and lead to symptoms of depression and anxiety. Fixing our circadian rhythm can help to regulate hormone production and improve our mental health.
Increased Energy and Productivity: A healthy circadian rhythm can help regulate our internal clock, which can affect the production of hormones like cortisol, which is responsible for our energy levels and alertness. Fixing our circadian rhythm can help to increase our energy levels and improve our productivity.
Improved Physical Health: A disrupted circadian rhythm can lead to an overproduction of cortisol, which can lead to stress, weight gain, and even diabetes. Fixing our circadian rhythm can help to regulate hormone production and improve our physical health.
- Reduced risk of chronic diseases: Disrupted circadian rhythm is linked to several chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease and more, fixing our circadian rhythm can reduce the risk of developing these diseases.
Here are some tips to get you started:
Create a consistent sleep schedule: Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day can help reset your body's internal clock and make it easier to fall asleep at night.
- Avoid screens before bedtime: The blue light emitted by screens can suppress melatonin production, making it harder to fall asleep. Try to avoid screens for at least an hour before bedtime.
- Get plenty of natural light during the day: Exposure to sunlight during the day helps regulate our internal clock and can improve sleep quality. Even taking a short walk outside during your lunch break can make a big difference.
- Eat and drink at appropriate times: Late night eating can disrupt our internal clock and make it harder to fall asleep. Try to avoid eating and drinking for at least 2 hours before bedtime to give your body the time it needs to digest food before you go to sleep.
- Consider using blue-light blocking glasses: These glasses have special filters that block out the harmful blue light emitted by screens, reducing its impact on melatonin production and helping you fall asleep more easily.
- Consuming nervine herbs, such as those found in Zen functional tea,: can help to switch off excitatory neurotransmitters by increasing inhibitory neurotransmitters like GABA, modulating receptors in the brain and blocking the release of stress hormones, leading to a calming effect on the nervous system. This can promote relaxation and reduce anxiety, promoting deep sleep and restoring balance to the nervous system.
In summary, our circadian rhythm plays a crucial role in regulating the production of hormones and chemicals in our body, and when it's disrupted, it can lead to serious health consequences. By understanding the causes of a disrupted circadian rhythm and making simple lifestyle changes, we can improve our sleep quality and overall well-being.