Controlled by a part of the brain known as the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus (SCN), this clever bunch of cells live in the hypothalamus and respond to light and dark. When the sun rises, light travels from the optic nerve to the SCN to let it know that it’s time to wake up.
Disruptions to the circadian rhythm mean that the normal cues for sleepiness and wakefulness are turned upside down and the body is forced to adjust. Circadian rhythm disturbances can be caused by:
- Night shifts
- Jet lag
- Mental illness
So, how do you reset your clock when it’s out of whack?
Fighting the urge to sleep is tough, but essential to resetting your body clock. Any naps you take during the day will interfere with your rest later in the evening, so try to battle through until bedtime. If you are on the brink of exhaustion, however, taking a short nap of between 10-20 minutes could help you to get through the rest of the day. Naps longer than 20 minutes can lead to sleep inertia, which causes you to feel groggy and hinders sleeping later that night.
Keep a waking schedule
Having control over when you wake up is key to regaining control over when you sleep. Waking up at the same time every day will encourage the body to recognise the usual light/dark cues and ease it back into a normal rhythm.
There are now apps which allow you to monitor and adjust your circadian rhythm with your smartphone. If you are always on the go and struggling with regular bouts of jet lag or night shifts, using an app to help you figure out what is going on with your body clock will help you to make adjustments. For an even deeper insight into your sleeping patterns, think about investing in a sleep monitoring system which will provide you with detailed data on your sleep patterns and how to improve them.
Change your eating habits
Digestion and metabolism are vital parts of the sleep-wake cycle. Studies have shown that animals adjust their circadian rhythms to the availability of food and Harvard researchers found that fasting resets the circadian clock. Having a meal at 4pm and then fasting until 8am the next morning could help you get back on track.
Research into the benefits of camping yielded some interesting results, scientists found that the internal biological clock is tightly synchronised to a midsummer light-dark cycle, though this is hugely disrupted by the artificial light all around us. Spending just one week camping will re-synchronise the body to solar time.
Turn off the light!
As your body takes light cues, it is super important to manage and manipulate the light around you to get your clock back on track. Avoid using phones, tablets or laptops at least an hour before your go to bed and try to simulate the natural rhythm of night and day as much as you can. Night workers could invest in blue light blocking sunglasses and blackout blinds, for example.
One of the most effective ways to improve your sleep is to use a sleep tracker or sleep monitoring system. This allows you to collect data on the quality and quantity of your sleep so that you can make adjustments to improve your rest. “If you can measure it, you can improve it.”
If you would like to find out more about how REM-Fit sleep monitoring technology can help you to get a better night’s rest, please get in touch with our experienced, knowledgeable staff by calling 020 8731 0020 or email us via email@example.com.
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