Today, we want to start by asking a few questions:
- Do you struggle with your energy levels?
- Do you rely on coffee, energy drinks, and other stimulants to help perk you up and get you through your day?
- Do you have trouble winding down at night?
- Do you wake up during the night and have difficulty going back to sleep?
If any of this sounds familiar, there’s a good chance your internal “body clock” is broken – your circadian clock, that is. Circadian rhythm refers to the body’s 24-hour cycle of biological processes, and it’s often called the sleep/wake or light/dark cycle.
Poor-quality sleep and crappy energy levels are intricately tied to disrupted circadian rhythm. But that’s not all. Disrupted circadian rhythms affect appetite, mood, metabolic health, overall health, and more. That’s why, today, we want to give you three crucial tips to help “fix” a broken circadian clock.
First and foremost, GET OUTSIDE, especially in the morning. You see, light is the key piece of information for the circadian system, as it “sets” the body’s master clock. Along those lines, get outside as much as possible, and if nothing else, spend at least 15 minutes outside in the morning.
Secondly, and on the other end of the spectrum, is to BLOCK BLUE LIGHT IN THE EVENING. Blue light is everywhere – lightbulbs, cell phones, tablets, computer monitors, TV screens, and more – and it suppresses melatonin production and prevents the natural lowering of body temperature, two key factors for initiating sleep. Try the following strategies 2 – 3 hours before bed:
- Avoid screens
- Use blue light blocking apps for your devices
- Dim your lights or use amber-tinted lightbulbs
- Wear blue light blocking glasses
Finally – as if you need yet another reason – GET MOVING. Along with light, food, and temperature, movement is a primary cue of circadian rhythms. Andregular exercise helps regulate the circadian clock, and while it’s good to move throughout the day, the body’s natural circadian rhythm suggests that the benefits of exercise are maximized when it’s done in the afternoon. Most people shouldn’t exercise late at night, as it can delay the release of melatonin, elevate core body temperature, and increase sympathetic nervous system activity – all the exact opposite of what you want to sleep better.