Circadian Rhythms Part III—Tips for Circadian Health

Taking into consideration the information provided in Parts I and II of this series on circadian rhythms, here are a few tips to ensure that your body clock stays in sync.

  1. Try to go to sleep by 11:00 pm—earlier is better, if your schedules allows.
  • “Spending time in low light a few hours before bedtime will encourage your body to produce sleep-promoting melatonin.”¹  Any amount of time you spend in low light before bedtime will be helpful.
  1. Make your sleeping room as dark as possible.
  • Use room-darkening shades or curtains.
  • Turn off all lights, digital and electronic devices, including the TV.
  • If you feel you need light to go to sleep, reduce the light slowly over time until you can comfortably sleep in the dark.
  • In the morning take a walk outside (it doesn’t have to be long) or eat your breakfast by a sunny or well-lit window.
  • To the degree you are able—given your responsibilities to others—go to bed and get up at the same general time every day.
  • It is best to block out blue light in the evening.
  • If you need to use a laptop or smart phone in the evening get a program like f.lux (https://justgetflux.com).  This will help to eliminate the blue wavelengths coming from the screen.
  • Another solution is to wear amber sunglasses at night or put a red or amber light bulb in your bedside lamp.
  • Remember, morning sunlight is full of blue light, similar to the light that comes from digital devices.  When you text or play video games or work on a lap top or phone in the evening your brain’s master clock thinks the day is just beginning.  As a result your organ systems shift into morning tasks rather than evening ones.  This causes dysfunction in the body and ultimately disease.
  • Consider replacing the use of digital devices in the evening with new ways of relaxing.  You could pick up a good book (not on your tablet), journal with pen and paper, take a long candle-lit soak in the tub or listen to some soothing music.
  • Eat all your meals in a 9 – 12 hour span during the day.  Finish eating by 7:30 – 8:00 PM.  If weight loss is an issue, try to finish your main meal before 3:00 PM.  Studies have shown that this pattern works best for losing weight.  In this regard it is best to finish your last meal by 6:00 – 7:00 PM.
  • Exercising regularly is always important and during the day is best.  Aerobic exercise, if done in the evening can, “…disrupt sleep and other rhythm dependent aspects of health.”²
  • Optimal health is best achieved by keeping your bodily systems “in sync”.

 

If you would like further help in this area of health care please feel free to call our office at

773/262-7611.

References:

¹Out of Sync, by Emily Laber-Warren, “Scientific American Mind”, p. 35

²Ibid, p. 35