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Strengthening Your Circadian Rhythm

Circadian rhythms are 24-hour cycles that are part of your body's internal clock to carry out essential bodily functions and processes. When your circadian rhythm is thrown off, it can create significant sleeping problems. Your circadian rhythm is determined by your hormone balance as well as your exposure to light and darkness.

Image credits: CNET

There are 2 major hormones that facilitate your sleep, specifically cortisol and melatonin. When you first wake up, your cortisol levels (the hormone that increases your "excitement" and "energy") are at its highest. Throughout the day, cortisol levels decrease. On the other hand, melatonin (the hormone that helps you sleep) starts out low in the mornings, and then peak right before you sleep (10:30 PM).

Here are some tips to strengthen your circadian rhythm to have better sleep.

Eat Regular Meals:

  • Consume 3 meals/day, with a 4-5 hour gap between your large meals

  • Consume complex carbohydrates, rather than simple carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates are found in vegetables and whole grains and help trigger a prolonged insulin release, which helps LOWER cortisol levels at night for improved sleep. Complex carbohydrates also raise serotonin levels, which is the feel good relaxing hormone and gets you ready for a restful night

Prioritize Light Exposure:

  • Go on a 10-15 minute walk OUTSIDE each morning without sunglasses

  • Evening walk around sundown

  • Aim for 30-60 minutes of natural light exposure/day

  • Limit blue light exposure once the sun has gone down (i.e. limit phone, TV, and computer use at least 3-4 hours before bed). Exposure to blue light disrupts the body's natural release of melatonin. Wearing blue-light blocking glasses and turning on night-time screen mode on all electronics is helpful

Other Tips:

  • Perform 2-5 minutes of diaphragmatic breathing (belly breathing) before you sleep to help calm your nervous system

  • Consume magnesium (either as a supplement or naturally through foods) in evenings before sleep

  • Keep bedroom temperature cool


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