Circadian Rhythm. It’s not some underground music genre, but actually a very important part of our functioning lives.
We all have one you know, and unsurprisingly circadian rhythms exist in all creatures and organisms. It ensures a flower opens and closes at the right time. It also keeps nocturnal animals from leaving the safety of their home during the day.
While our own circadian rhythm isn’t as apparent for our immediate daily survival, it does play a major role in our quality of life.
The word ‘circadian’ comes from the Latin phrase ‘circa diem’ meaning around a day. That’s because our circadian rhythm operates on a 24-hour cycle, helping your body carry out its essential processes. Its main function is that it helps control our daily sleep schedule and is hugely influenced by both light and darkness. Our eyes capture changes in light, these changes are recorded and signals are sent throughout our body telling us whether we need to be awake or asleep.
Natural light is extremely valuable to our Circadian Rhythm, balancing out our body’s production of hormones in sync with the time of day. On the flip side, artificial light, like the blue and green light from computers, has disrupting qualities that set the rhythm off kilter.
How Does Our Circadian Rhythm Get Out Of Sync?
Consistency is the most important aspect of maintaining a natural and healthy Circadian Rhythm. Ideally we would be going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. The Circadian Rhythm can get out of sync through simple everyday behaviors such as:
- Prolonged exposure to blue light
- Mental health conditions
- Poor sleeping habits /schedule
- Shift work
Keeping a routine when it comes to sleep is a key factor to keeping your circadian rhythm in check.
In a perfect world, we’d only be exposed to natural light - allowing the sun to boost wakefulness and darkness to signal the release of ‘the hormone of darkness’, melatonin but we understand that it’s not always possible in our modern world.
With this in mind there’s a few simple things you can do to get your rhythm back in sync:
- Catch the early sun - exposure to natural light early in the day helps reinforce your circadian rhyme
- Daily exercise
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, nicotine
- Limit light before bed - dim lights and keep electronics out of sleep spaces to ensure you wind down for a restful sleep
- Create a dark & restful sleep space - the absence of light signals a response in the body that’s time to rest
Simply, your circadian rhythm is your body’s clock. So by leading a balanced, active life you’ll help to keep time on this vital element of your body.