You may know circadian rhythms have something to do with sleep. But what are they, how do they impact sleep, and how can you reset yours?

 

What is a circadian rhythm

 

What is a circadian rhythm?

Just like you have a daily routine, your body has one too. It’s called a circadian rhythm and it’s a 24-hour internal body clock that controls your cycles of sleep and wakefulness.

The circadian rhythm is influenced by a number of factors including:

  • environmental cues, especially light
  • hormones such as melatonin (that promote sleep) and cortisol (that promote alertness)
  • body temperature
  • metabolism
  • work hours
  • physical activity
  • age.

How it impacts sleep

When your brain receives signals based on your environment, it activates certain hormones, alters your body temperature, and regulates your metabolism to either keep you awake, or lull you to sleep.

When in sync, your circadian rhythm can promote consistent, high-quality, restorative sleep. Going to bed at the same time each night, and waking up at the same time promotes a consistent circadian rhythm, as does aiming for seven to nine hours sleep each night

However, when it’s out of sync you may experience significant sleeping problems including insomnia.

What can upset your circadian rhythm?

Any number of things can upset your circadian rhythm including:

  • Shift work with erratic hours, or working night shifts
  • Travelling through different time zones
  • Late nights and early wake times
  • Stress
  • Medication
  • Health conditions such as brain damage, dementia, blindness or head injuries
  • Mental health conditions.

Poor sleep habits such as eating or drinking late at night, too much screen time before bed, and no sleep schedule can also upset the natural sleep-wake rhythm.

Can you reset your circadian rhythm?

The good news is that if your circadian rhythm gets out of whack there are a number of steps you can take to get it back in sync. These include:

  • Sticking to a daily routine, including going to bed and waking up at the same time each day
  • Spend time outside during the day
  • Exercise regularly (although not too close to bedtime)
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, nicotine and other stimulants at night
  • Engage in relaxing activities before bed such as reading or meditating, instead of being on electronic devices
  • Avoid napping in the afternoon or evening

Another important element in promoting a regular sleep schedule is setting your bedroom up in a way that promotes good sleep. Ensure that the temperature is not too hot or cold, the room is dark and quiet, and you have good airflow.

Sleeping on a comfortable, supportive mattress is also a must if you want to have a restful sleep. At BedGuard, we specialise in high-quality waterproof mattresses suitable for every member of the family. Why not come in-store or browse our range online today.

We’re here to help.

 

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