How to keep your circadian rhythm on track

Health

Understanding your circadian rhythm (aka internal body clock) is key to getting healthy and regular shut-eye. Sleep specialist Olivia Arezzolo lends her expertise on how to prevent it from being thrown off-kilter…

What is your circadian rhythm?

It is your 24-hour biological clock which responds to day and night and the changes in light. It’s known as a primary factor in sleep and alertness, however, it also controls systems such as cardiovascular and endocrine (hormones).

Why is it important?

It facilitates sleep and alertness, which are two key facets of functionality. Sleep is critical to physiological and psychological restoration, as any sleep-deprived individual can testify.

What causes it to go out of sync?

Excessive exposure to light is a big one, particularly in our tech society. Symptoms include an inability to switch off and feeling anxious and nervous.

Timezone travel is another which disrupts this rhythm. Symptoms are typical of that of jetlag, such as confusion, erratic sleep patterns, an inability to focus and brain fog.

Photo: Olivia Arezzolo

5 ways optimise your circadian rhythm

1. Expose yourself to morning light upon waking. If it’s still dark, use an artificial light.

2. Minimise exposure to artificial light after dark.

3. Cut off eating after 8pm as digestion can increase your body temperature, which can cause dysfunction.

4. Exercise in the morning, which enhances your production of serotonin (the hormone to make you awake). Subsequently, it’s more likely you’ll produce melatonin (the hormone to make you sleepy) at the right time in the evening.

5. Take a 30-minutes walk during the day, at least. It’s all about that light!

By Sam

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