30 Tips on How to Restore Circadian Rhythm
According to the Sleep Foundation, getting at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night is crucial for our physical and mental health. Yet, for some, sleep is a privilege. If you or someone you know does not get adequate sleep or has difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, try some of the tips below to help improve your circadian clock.
Circadian Rhythm Definition
Your body's internal clock regulates your sleep cycle and helps you maintain a regular sleep schedule. The biological clock that controls your 24-hour sleep cycle is known as the circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythm is controlled by a part of the brain known as the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), a grouping of cells located in the hypothalamus. This area of the brain responds to light and dark signals, so your body will react depending on when your eyes perceive light.
How Can I Improve My Circadian Rhythm?
Because numerous facts may impact your sleep, improving your circadian cycle may take some trial and error. You may need to try a couple of various changes to your routine to strengthen your circadian rhythm.
#1. Consistent Bedtimes
Your circadian cycle will work the best if you maintain a consistent bedtime. That being said, you should avoid staying up late to do work, be on your phone, or watch your favorite TV show. If you maintain a consistent bedtime, the odds that you will fall asleep at a regular time will improve. This includes going to bed at the same time on the weekends if you can. That way, you shouldn't have as hard a time waking up during the workweek.
#2. Consistent Wake Up Times
Along with consistent bedtimes, you should also aim to wake up around the same time every morning. While it may be tempting to sleep in on the weekends, allowing yourself this extra sleep may throw your body off when it's time to get up early again.
#3. Bright Morning Light
Because the circadian rhythm functions the best when you expose your body to natural light, it's essential to get bright light early in the morning. This light can come from your window naturally, or you can program a light source to wake you up at a particular time every morning if you do not have access to bright light.
It's important to get this bright light because the morning light will signal your body to wake up and raise your body temperature and increase your cortisol levels. This, in turn, will switch on your appetite and increase your energy in the morning.
#4. Dim Lights at Night
Like getting bright light in the morning, it's also important to dim the lights at night. Your body will naturally learn to become sleepy when the lights start to go out, and the sun goes down. Once this daylight fades, your body's master clock, the SCN, will begin to trigger your body's natural Melatonin, which will make you feel sleepy.
#5. Reduce and Limit Night Screen Time
You've likely heard it before, but one of the best ways to help your body's biological clock function properly is to put away our smartphones, tablets, laptops and turn off your TVs. Because all of these products produce blue light—a wavelength that will disrupt your body's natural circadian rhythms—it's essential to switch to either reading a book or some other form of relaxation in the evening.
#6. Exercise Daily, But Not at Night
One of the best ways to get better sleep is to exercise and get some movement during the day. This is because regular exercise will help you reduce the time it takes for you to fall asleep. Further, it may even improve your sleep quality. However, it's also important to know that you should not exercise at night because the exercise may wake you up. That said, you should aim to work out in the morning or mid to early afternoon.
#7. Fasting Followed by Consistent Mealtimes
Because digestion and metabolism can play a role in your level of sleepiness and wakefulness, you may need to adjust when you eat and what you eat. Typically, animals will adapt their circadian rhythms to match the availability of food. And, some research has shown that you can fast for 16 hours to help reset your internal clock. After this fasting level, it's essential to stick to regular mealtimes because once your body expects food at a specific time, it helps promote circadian rhythm.
#8. Spend a Weekend Camping
When you spend a weekend outdoors in a tent, you will be subjected to light most naturally. Not only will the natural light wake you up early in the morning when the sun comes up, but your body will also likely start to get sleepy once the sun goes down. Additionally, when you're outside camping, you will probably not have access to electronic devices and will not spend as much time in front of that blue light.
#9. Pull an All-Nighter
If you are experiencing temporary sleep setbacks, you may want to try staying up for one whole day or one full night. Typically, the goal should be to stay awake until the next regular bedtime. This can also work for those traveling to a country with drastically different time zones, but it can also help someone adjust from working the night shift to the day shift or vice versa.
#10. Practice Healthy Sleep Habits
There are some healthy sleep habits that you can add to your daily routine. If you make all these sleep habits, you may establish a routine that can help you sleep better and longer. Some of these healthy sleep habits include:
- Going to bed early enough to get the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep.
- Maintaining a sleep schedule, including on the weekends.
- Do not take naps that are longer than 20 to 30 minutes.
- Limit caffeine after lunch.
- Stick to a bedtime routine.
- Avoid electronics and bright lights before bed.
- Keep your bedroom quiet, dark, and cool.
- Avoid stressing about your amount of sleep.
#11. Practice Relaxation techniques
If you have trouble relaxing or calming yourself down before bed, you may want to try some relaxation techniques to reduce your stress and anxiety. Some calming activities that you can try before bed include:
- Deep breathing techniques
- Drinking caffeine-free tea
#12. Skip the Naps
Even though an afternoon nap may seem appealing at the time, napping too much in the afternoon can impact your sleep at night. If you need to nap in the afternoon, aim for a nap that is less than 30 minutes and make sure that the nap occurs before 3:00 PM, so you don't disrupt your nighttime sleep.
#13. Avoid Loud Noises
A quiet environment can help you sleep well. Even as you sleep, your brain will continue to process the sounds around you, so if you sleep in a loud and distracting environment, it can be difficult for you to fall asleep and stay asleep. To remove loud noises in your bedroom, make sure you keep your television out of the bedroom or at least turn it off before you go to bed. You may also want to turn your cell phone onto a quiet setting.
If you happen to live in a noisy neighborhood, live in a busy part of town, or have a partner who snores, you may want to invest in white noise or earplugs to help you get a better night's sleep.
#14. Play Soothing and White Noise
Another way to help you fall asleep and reduce the amount of distracting sounds here at night can be to play white noise or soothing sounds that you can focus on instead of the distracting noises. Some of the most common machines that can help with this white noise include:
- Air Conditioners
- Air purifiers
- White noise machine
#15. Keep Your Bedroom Cool
Right before you go to bed, your body's temperature will drop as it prepares for sleep. That being said, you should keep your bedroom temperature between 60 degrees and 67 degrees Fahrenheit. These temperatures will help keep your body cool and comfortable so that you can fall asleep easily.
One study done in 2012 by the National Institutes of Health found that the temperature of the room that you sleep in is one of the most critical factors in achieving good, quality sleep. So, keep it cool.
#16. Invest in a Comfortable Bed
Sometimes, the mattress that you sleep on can affect your sleep. So, you should evaluate your mattress and see if it is at the right level of firmness for your sleeping habits. You should double-check to see if your mattress is suitable for your sleeping position, weight, and body shape.
#17. Eat an Early Dinner
Because your circadian rhythm is also related to your eating habits, eating a late dinner can delay your sleep. That said, you should eat your last meal between two or three hours before you go to bed. This will give your body enough time to digest your food, and it can help you fall asleep. However, what you eat matters too because you should avoid heavy and high-fat meals right before you go to bed. Instead, eat a light and healthy snack.
#18. Use Melatonin
Some people find that using melatonin pills can help them fall asleep. This is because Melatonin is the hormone that naturally regulates your sleep cycle, and taking melatonin medication may help you relax and fall asleep.
#19. Drink Your Coffee in the Morning
Because coffee is a stimulant meant to help you stay awake, you should avoid drinking coffee at night. You should drink your cup of coffee in the morning and avoid drinking it in the late afternoon.
#20. Take a Morning Walk or Drink Your Coffee Outside
Because getting morning light is so important to wake up, try grabbing your cup of coffee and going for a morning walk or taking your cup of coffee outside to sit on your balcony. This will expose your body to the morning light, and it may help you wake up. If it is in the middle of winter and you cannot access this light, you may use a bright light tool instead.
#21. Expose Yourself to Natural Light Throughout the Day
One of the best ways to help reset your circadian cycle is to expose yourself to as much natural light as you can throughout the day. So, you should take a walk for lunch if you can or sit by a window that allows you to get some natural light. That said, it's crucial to get out as close to sunrise and sunset as you possibly can because that can help your body wake up and get sleepy enough to fall asleep at night.
#22. Use Amber Lights After Sunset
If you use amber lights after sunset, you can mimic the calming light of a sunset that can help you fall asleep. Unfortunately, most of us have these incredibly bright blue-tinted lights that can inhibit your ability to fall asleep because these lights are more like the ones that you experience early in the morning. So, invest in some LED amber lights for your bedside lamps.
#23. Go to Sleep When You Are Sleepy (After Sunset)
While many of us are used to trying to stay awake as late as possible to be tired enough to go to bed, this may be working against our natural sleep cycles. If you get sleepy after sunset, you should try to go to bed if you can. This is easier said than done, but it may help us adjust our sleep schedules.
#24. Incorporate a Bedtime Routine
Along with those healthy sleep habits, you should do your best to incorporate a bedtime routine into your evening. If you do the same thing every night, your body will get used to the activities you do before bed and get tired when you perform them.
#25. Limit Your Alcohol at Night
While many of us enjoy a nightcap, you may want to limit the amount of alcohol you have at night. Similar to caffeine, it may have an impact on your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Primarily, alcohol will affect the quality of sleep. So even if your glass of wine helps you fall asleep at night, you may not be getting the best quality sleep.
#26. Can't Sleep? Get Out of Bed
If you find that you can't sleep once you've gotten in bed, you should get out of bed and do something relaxing. This is because if you continue to toss and turn your bed and still can't fall asleep, you will train your body to stay awake once you are in bed. So, get out of bed and do some stretching or deep breathing techniques.
#27. Try Bright Light Therapy
Bright light therapy is a great way to reset your circadian rhythm cycles. You can purchase one of these devices on your own, but you may want to talk to a sleep professional about the level of exposure and when you should expose yourself to these lights. Bright light therapy may be an excellent option for those who work late at night or early in the morning. Additionally, bright light therapy may be helpful for those with seasonal affective disorder.
#28. Don't Wear Sunglasses
Although it sounds odd and the morning sun can be blinding, you should avoid wearing sunglasses in the morning. This is because you want your body to be exposed to the full extent of the natural morning light so that you can wake up and have a productive day.
#29. Avoid Discussing Stressful Topics Before Bed
Before you go to bed, you want to make sure that you are as stress-free as possible. For that reason, you should avoid discussing any significant financial matters or other stressful topics before you go to bed. Additionally, you may want to save that intense argument with your partner for the next day so that you can both have a good night's sleep.
#30. Get a Medical Checkup
If you have tried to regulate your sleep cycle and are still experiencing problems with your sleep, you may want to talk to your doctor about your sleep habits and the issues you encounter. This is because sleep troubles can being an indication of an underlying sleep disorder or other disorder.
How Long Does it Take to Fix Circadian Rhythm?
Unfortunately, there is not a magic number that guarantees when your internal clock will completely reset. Additionally, the length of time it takes for you to fix your circadian rhythm will depend on what is setting it off in the first place. On some occasions, it can take one day per time zone, but it may take up to two weeks to adjust. Further, if you are still experiencing sleep problems after trying numerous different ways to reset your biological clocks, you may want to consult your medical doctor.
About the Author
Brandon Landgraf is the Digital Marketing Manager for Carex Health Brands. He finds passion and fulfillment in creating content that enhances, improves, and enlivens others' quality of life. All of his written work is formulated to not only offer essential advice and tips but back it with proven studies and experts. His mission is to connect with readers and provide steps to make their lives better.
You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.
About Carex Health Brands
Carex is your one-stop shop for home medical equipment and for products that assist caregivers with providing the best possible support and care for their loved ones. Carex Health Brands has been the branded leader in in-home, self-care medical products for over 35 years. Our goal is to improve the lives of our customers by bring them quality products that bring dignity back to their lives. With our three nationally distributed brands, Carex Health Brands serves national, regional and independent food, drug and mass retailers along with wholesalers, distributors and medical dealers.
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