My Best Sleep Tips - Circadian Rhythm

Circadian Rhythm

This was something I started to read about and research. Call it the sleep cycle, circadian rhythm, it's your internal clock that regulates the wake/sleep cycle. Here's two references: NIH and Sleep Foundation if  you want to learn more. In short, daylight signals the brain to stay awake and darkness signals the brain to make melatonin, the hormone that produces sleep.

We humans have an odd habit. We slam the lights out, jump into bed and expect to be able to sleep. The human body just isn't designed to work that way. The sun sets gradually, it doesn't just slam from daylight to darkness. There's a reason for that. It's how the eyes signal the brain to start producing melatonin. We start to get sleepy and we fall asleep. Simple. Except we humans have made it very complex, unnatural.

My research took me down the rabbit hole of the industrial revolution and the whole idea of an 8-hour sleep cycle, the need for alarm clocks because of factory work, etc. The history of it is all quite fascinating, at least to me.

🌿 So here's what I did - about an hour before I want to be asleep I dim the lights around the house. This was much easier to do in the winter than the summer. In summer I just go by the natural rhythm of the sun and my sleep is naturally shorter in the summer and longer in the winter. Another thing that helped is using a red filter like twilight on my phone. Blue light is notorious for a signaling the brain to stay awake. Things like the TV, the computer, phone and light bulbs all produce blue light. Blue light filtering glasses have also been known to help. I have this salt lamp I love to use at night because it produces a warm glow as well as negative ions. (There's another rabbit hole if you feel like jumping down that one!)  Some gentle stretches for 15-30 minutes helps me rest and signals my body it’s time for bed.

Somewhere along the line I was able to start falling asleep on my own but sleep was fragmented and broken. I would sleep for three or four hours, wait for two and go back to sleep for two. From my research I learned this was not at all unusual for humans, in fact years ago it was quite common for people to sleep for a few hours, get up and read by candlelight or go out in the street to associate with others and then go back to sleep. There are movements towards "polyphasic sleeping" and intermittent sleeping. That works for some but it wasn't really working for me. That research though did however help me to feel less stressed about having broken sleep cycle. During the night I read and studied on my phone with my red filter and would fall back asleep. Read pert 3 here

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