Circadian rhythms “our 24-hour biological cycles” govern more
than our waking and sleeping. These rhythms affect when we
are born, when we die, and how we pass the days in between.
The body’s rhythms are controlled by a “master clock” located
in a tiny region of the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus.
The circadian rhythm is set by external cues of light and darkness. Light increases wakefulness hormones, like cortisol, and
darkness is necessary for production of sleep hormones, like
melatonin. Sleep has become on over-the-top wellness trend.
Products including smartwatches and Oura rings to track our
sleep quality, smart mattresses, sleep tonics, CBD, and even
sleep ice cream. A $432 billion sleep market and we’re still
The reason that most of these generic sleep
solutions aren’t working is because our modern
lives defy the basic facts of circadian
biology. Humans evolved to be highly
sensitive to the 24-hour solar
cycle and super-regular exposure
to natural light and dark. We need
the sun’s bright blue light in the
day to be alert and active, and
we need dark to kick-start
our brains sleep mode and
recovery. Humans today have
been exposed to so much
disruption to their circadian
rhythms, such as the huge
disconnect between natural solar
time and our social clocks. We’re
taking in light and dark in historically unnatural ways. Netflix binging,
checking social media until we fall
asleep trick our brains into thinking
it’s still daytime.
Dr. Steve Lockley, associate professor of medicine
at Harvard says “the absolute key to healthy sleep and
circadian rhythms is stable, regularly-timed daily light and dark
exposure – our natural daily time cues. Sleep negates light input
to the brain and so keeping a regular sleep pattern will also help
maintain regular light-dark exposure. After dusk, when natural
light disappears, we must minimize the negative impact of
man-made light. In the day, we have evolved to be in the light,
ideally sunlight, but if not, high quality blue enriched indoor light.
Given that most of our body systems express circadian rhythms,
ensuring proper alignment of our internal circadian clocks,
starting with the management of lighting, will have major impacts
on human health.” Experts predict a major shift in wellness with
less focus on all the generic sleep solutions and a keen new
focus on circadian health optimization for not only sleep but
for all the brain and body systems that are
controlled by the circadian clock.
More people will finally bring circadian
rhythm supporting lighting into their homes,
with an explosion of tunable, biodynamic
lighting solutions that sync light with the time
of day. New technologies such as the TImeshifter app offer personalized jet lag plans
with timed light exposure advice as the foundation to help travelers
eliminate jet lag and could have more important applications for “time
shifting” shift workers to new work schedules, or even preparing
patients for surgeries and treatments to improve efficacy. Hotels,
wellness resorts and airlines will think beyond generic sleep
offerings to offer true circadian solutions for travelers
based on their circadian cycles. Changing your
biological clock for the benefit of your health
may take time and perseverance, but you
can easily do it.
Here are some basic tips and tricks
to get you started.
1. A Protein-Rich Breakfast
Protein gives you strength
and energy to get on with
2. Get Some Sun
Vitamin D straight from the
sun is vitally important for
mental and physical health.
Going outside for as little as 15
minutes every morning can help
you wake up and feel refreshed.
3. Exercise Daily
Raising your core body temperature
and doing cardio can help you sleep better
4. No Wi-Fi
Before you go to bed make sure to turn the Wi-Fi off.
Being away from your smartphone reduces distractions and
stress. The light from the screen will throw off your circadian
rhythm and keep you awake.
5. Set a Bedtime
Establishing a bedtime will change your circadian rhythm,
always go to bed at the same time every night to get yourself
used to sleep at the right time.