How to fix your Circadian Rhythm

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Circadian rhythm is one of the most important factors in regulating sleep, hormone production, and overall physical and mental health. Any disruptions in circadian rhythm can cause circadian rhythm disorders including lack of focus, problems in sleeping, and fatigue.

It's recommended to consult a healthcare provider or sleep expert if you are experiencing sleep-related difficulties for more than 3 weeks. Some strategies can help to fix your circadian rhythm and improve sleep quality.

Proven 10 Ways to Reset Your Circadian Rhythm the Right Way

Embrace light

A disruption in circadian rhythm is largely related to underexposure to natural light. Exposure to bright light in the morning is an indicator to the brain that it is time to wake up and alert your body.

Similarly, the fading light and darkness indicate brain to prepare the body for rest and sleep.

The lack of light can imbalance the production of melatonin which will have a direct impact on the circadian rhythm.

Whenever you wake up switch on all the lights in the house and open all curtains so that you are exposed to the light. Go out for a walk or do some outdoor activity in the sunlight if the weather permits.

If sunlight is scarce then make your room as bright as possible using artificial light.

Make a conscious effort to embrace the light in the morning.

Sleep routine

Forming habits and routines go a long way and sleep is no different. Keeping a sleep routine helps to streamline most of your sleep-related issues. Be consistent with your bedtime and waking up time, regardless of whether it's a weekday or weekend.

Start shifting your bedtime slowly if you sleep late in the night, as your body's internal clock may not adjust to sudden changes.

Physical Exercise

Are you a person who hates going to the gym? Well, we have a piece of bad news for you. You may choose not to go to the gym but you will have to include some physical activity into your daily routine. It has a direct impact on fixing your circadian rhythm.

You can choose to play a sport, go for a hike, cycle or simply go for a run outside. 

Physical activity naturally helps in the production of melatonin, a hormone that makes you fall asleep.

Avoid alcohol and caffeine near bedtime

Everyone loves their booze or favorite coffee but they also interfere with your sleep. As a sleep expert, I always recommend avoiding caffeine or alcohol 5-6 hours before bedtime.

You don’t want to consume any kind of stimulant in the evening that will keep you awake at night.

Alcohol around bedtime is a big no!

Avoid screens around bedtime

We all can agree that smartphones have become intrusive in our lives. From kids to the elderly, everyone is glued to the screens. It is not only affecting our relationships but can be a problem for our sleep as well.

All these handheld devices including the TV, emit blue light. This blue light acts as an inhibitor in the production of melatonin.

If you are serious about regulating your circadian rhythm, you have to stop using devices that emit blue light one hour before sleep time.

Avoid naps

My mom is an ardent fan of taking naps in the afternoon. And she also often complains about difficulty falling asleep at night. Most people find that these naps make it difficult to sleep at night, and it is advisable to avoid taking naps during the day.

However, naps do tend to re-energize you and improve focus. But make these as power naps and limit them to 25-30 minutes. Use an alarm clock to avoid oversleeping.

Calming Techniques

Avoiding smartphones automatically cuts off blue light that hinders sleep but it has one additional benefit. It helps you relax and calm down.

You don’t want to indulge in Netflix, social media, or news that can trigger a flurry of thoughts. You have to be calm before you snooze off.

Try things that help you unwind and relax before bedtime. Try meditation, listen to soothing music, read a book, etc. There are many ways to relax and they can differ from person to person.

Choose a technique that works for you.

Stay away from the noise

For many light sleepers, a slight noise can disrupt their sleep. Any noise in your neighborhood or adjacent bedroom is beyond your control. But there are ways you can stay away from noise during your sleeping hours.

Use a white noise machine, they are pretty cheap to own these days. Among other options, earplugs can also be a good choice.

Cooler room temperatures

Our body temperature drops slightly when it enters the first stage of sleep or light sleep. Keeping the room temperature between 60 and 67°F or 15 to 19°C will make things more conducive to falling asleep easily.

Adjust your room temperature in those temperature ranges as per your comfort level.

Fix your Sleep Environment

The sleeping environment you sleep in has a role to play. Remove clutter from your room. Make the room comfortable and soothing to your eyes.

Make sure your mattress and pillow are comfortable and suitable for your sleeping position. If you wake up in the morning with back pain or body aches, you need to replace your mattress.

Your mattress should be supportive and keeps your spine aligned. Any indentation or lumps in the mattress is a sign for buying a new mattress.

Eat light, and eat early

Our eating habits are tied to our quality of sleep. A heavy meal late at night or closer to bedtime will activate metabolism and the digestive system. The body will burn calories and keep its vitals active.

A light dinner and a couple of hours before bedtime will allow the body to prepare itself for sleep at night. Keep the dinner low on fat for easy digestion.

Eating every day at the same also helps in better sleep.

Intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting is an extension of eating light and early. It forces you to eat early so that your body can manage a 12-16 hour window of fasting.

Melatonin supplements

A low dose of melatonin supplements is beneficial for regulating the sleep cycle but it is advisable to get the dosage from a registered medical practitioner.

Talk with your doctor

Lastly, if you regularly go through disturbed sleep, there can be an undiagnosed circadian rhythm disorder or sleep disorder. 

Get yourself evaluated by a sleep specialist to rule out any complexity or issues.

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