Updated: Oct 17, 2019
Don't laugh, but my bedtime is 8:30pm. Typically, I am awake around 5am. I use to be a night owl, but somewhere along the way, my sleeping patterned shifted. I did not like the feeling of staying up past 11pm and awaking for work by 6am. 6 hours of sleep wasn't cutting it anymore (and certainly not the 3 - 4 hours of sleep I formerly averaged in my college years). It was when I began my Master's degree program and took a course on Hormonal Health, that I learned the literally 'life saving' effects quality sleep patterns hold! I wanted to share with ya'll a few facts on sleep and circadian rhythms as it relates to aging and overall health.
What is circadian rhythm?
"Your circadian rhythm is basically a 24-hour internal clock that is running in the background of your brain and cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals. It's also known as your sleep/wake cycle." (National Sleep Foundation)
Our circadian rhythms regulate not only sleep but heart rate, blood pressure, hormone release and neurological function.
What can contribute to poor circadian rhythms?
Eating late at night (especially carbs/sugars)
Consuming caffeine later in the day
Cell phone & computers
Jet lag from travel
To learn about sleep needs by age & gender, check out:
Studies show that poor sleep is linked to aging and age-related health conditions on a cellular level. Below are natural interventions that can assist in getting circadian rhythms on a healthy track and establishing optimal sleep patterns:
4 Actions to Help Support Circadian Rhythms:
Take melatonin supplement: Melatonin is a hormone that is released as light diminishes (the sun goes down). You could be lacking in this process, especially if you are up late watching tv or playing on your lap top. Melatonin also has been valued for its anti-carcinogen effect. You do not want to miss out on those kinds of benefits! An exert from one of Dr. Axe's articles states, "Several studies suggest that low melatonin levels may be associated with breast cancer risk. To determine melatonin’s effectiveness at stopping tumor growth, one group of researchers evaluated the action of melatonin dosage on the growth of breast tumors in vitro (using human cancer cells) and in vivo (using mice). The researchers found that melatonin may inhibit tumor growth and cell production, as well as block the formation of new blood vessels in estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer models." * Be sure to only take this supplement when you are ready to call it a night. When I consume 2mg of melatonin, I am ready for sleep within 60 min. (Source: https://draxe.com/nutrition/supplements/melatonin-dosage/)
Drink water or an herbal tea (caffeine free) before bed. Consuming caffeine (coffee, tea, soda) will only stimulate the nervous system and disrupt the circadian rhythms. Try a relaxing, nervine herb based tea. See suggestion below.
If you 'must' have a night time snack, citrus fruit contains a substance called nobiletin. Research suggests it can support circadian rhythms within the cells.
Read, pray, journal or meditate. In low light, try one of these activities as you slowly relax and prepare for sleep, by emptying your mind and your worries (so to speak). Deep breathing can also be helpful in calming the mind and heart rate.
4 Suggested Supplements:
Melatonin Sleep Support Spray (raspberry flavor) https://bit.ly/2OW9gpS
Life Extension Circadian Sleep https://www.lifeextension.com/vitamins-supplements/item02300/circadian-sleep
Enjoy tea? Yogi has a tasty tea filled with calming herbs to savor before rest, Herbal Tea Caffeine Free Soothing Caramel https://bit.ly/35DWx1j
What have you incorporated into your routine that has helped healthily set your circadian rhythms and sleep cycles? I'd love to hear from you!