Living a circadian lifestyle – A guide to better sleep

What it means:

Living in the natural 24-hour cycle from light to dark.

Why is it important:

Our hormones are based on mother nature’s cycle and respond to the rhythm of the day accordingly. We are meant to rise with the sun (or as close to sunrise as possible) as our cortisol is highest at that time and as the day goes on our cortisol lowers and our body prepares for rest. This is how nature intended. No one is “naturally” a night owl. If a person feels that they function best at night? They are more than likely experiencing hormonal dysregulation and changes should be made to shift back into the natural cycle for better health and better sleep. Dr. Breus wrote a great book on sleep called The Power of When.

Tips on how to make the shift:

1. Wake naturally without an alarm clock. If this is tough at first set your alarm for a quiet “easing” into wakefulness by using a chime or gong or even a sunlight clock until you naturally wake on your own. Turn any conventional clocks around or cover.

2. Make sure you are getting your most pressing things done in the morning, the things that require more energy than others like exercising, stressful projects etc.

3. Eat on a schedule and eat real food. Eliminate all processed refined sugars, grains and anything that comes in a box. Breakfast should not taste like dessert.

4. Expose your eyes and skin to sunlight (vitamin D) at least 15-20 minutes per day. Preferably bare arms and legs. Walk barefoot outside, inside etc. Feel the earth beneath your feet. If it’s not the season to be bare get a natural vitamin D light for your home and talk to your doctor about supplementing.

5. As the day winds down shut your blinds and lower the lights. Light a few candles, turn on relaxing music and take a warm bath with lavender.

6. Eat before 6:30 p.m. and make your meal a lighter meal than your lunch or breakfast. Eat a small protein/fat/carb snack before bed to stop the surge of adrenaline and cortisol that often happens in the night when blood sugar is off if you still struggle with wakefulness.

7. Turn off ALL electronics by 8:00 p.m. or use blue blocker sunglasses to read the computer, watch TV or read electronic books.

a. Chris Kresser offers more tips here

b. Get some blue blockers here

c. Download Flux for your computer to minimise night time

exposure to blue light.

8. Read, use lavender oil, do some relaxing stretching before bed.

9. Be in bed asleep by 10:30pm at the latest.

10. Write down all the things you THINK you may worry about once your eyes are closed; the next day’s projects, what didn’t get done that day etc. Once it is down on paper you release it from your energy and your mind and free yourself to rest. If you still struggle with stressful thoughts work on reducing stress during the day with an Emwave2 or a stress reducing app.

11. Remove ALL sources of light from the bedroom (including; televisions, phones, alarm clock lights and light that filters through windows etc. If this is not possible wear an eye mask for total darkness. If these steps don’t solve your sleep issues have your adrenals tested by ordering a diurnal saliva test here and find out if you are having lows and highs at the wrong part of the day. Also practice guided relaxation and learn to turn off the sympathetic nervous system.