Why do we have Circadian Rhythms?
There is something magical about watching the sunrise. Not just the way the earth turns and shows the sun, since the sun is not really rising, we are spinning around, but what it does to our internal time clock, The circadian rhythm.
The changing light frequencies tell the circadian rhythm that it's time to wake, sleep, eat, release hormones, perform bodily functions, and much more.
Light stimulates the good cortisol levels early in the morning and sets the timing of melatonin release 14-16 hours later.
Watching the sunrise sets the circadian rhythm which stimulates serotonin production and elevates mood.
Serotonin from the sunlight and tryptophan from the diet maximize the production of Melatonin which helps us sleep later.
There is also something restful and calming about watching the sunset.
When the sun sets there is a spike in blue light that starts producing melatonin, telling the circadian rhythm that the day is ending and to prepare for sleep.
What happens when the internal time clock gets thrown off, by daylight time changes, travel, odd work hours, late-night partying, all-night binge-watching, and so on?
A disturbed sleep-wake cycle can cause serious sleeping problems. Without the proper signaling from the circadian rhythm, a person can struggle to fall asleep, wake up during the night, or be unable to sleep as long as they want into the morning, resulting in lower-quality sleep, weaker immune systems, and strained quality of life.
Not all circadian rhythms are the same. Some people have internal clocks that run faster than 24 hours and some slower, but they run on an approximately 24 hour clock.
The amount of sleep a person needs—as well as his or her preference for waking early or staying up late—varies from individual to individual. Some of these variations in sleep duration and timing are determined by genetics, can be cultural, environmental, and behavioral factors.
There are many things that we can do to help keep the Circadian rhythm tuned and adjusted. Here are just a few ideas.
Stay on daily consistent bedtime and waking schedules.
Eat at regular times every day.
Get regular daily exercise.
Get outside into the sunlight early in the day.
Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and sugar at night.
Avoid bright light at night, especially blue light. Exposing the eyes to light from devices, screens, and overhead light can throw off the rhythm.
During the day take sunshine breaks. Several minutes a day of natural light can reduce depression, increase alertness and elevate positive mood. Getting a daily dose of UVB rays by exposing the body, skin, eyes to sunlight makes Vitamin D, optimizing the immune system.
That does not mean basking in the sun for hours. This practice can be harmful in different ways. Exposing the body to high levels of UV rays can be very damaging to the skin and eyes. That's another topic I can discuss in a later blog.
Now have an awesome productive day and a good night sleep.