Some of you have written in and even though it’s not your main issue of discussion, nestled in your posts is the problem of struggling to sleep. There’s a lot on your minds. How couldn’t there be, really – with the world the way it is? As soon as one thing seems to become a “new normal” then something else seems to literally “blow up”.
Do you lay your head down and wonder if you’re safe? Do you have thoughts that race like a freight train through your head? Do you even lie down at all at night at all? Maybe some of you sit up all night online, playing games, watching TV shows or movies, talking to friends or just scrolling, scrolling to keep busy to drown out the things your mind wants to think about. Do you worry about the future?
Before you know it you’ve become nocturnal and now you sleep during the day and stay up all night.
Maybe I don’t have it exactly – but I bet I’m close. Because these are strange times. And just lying down peacefully for 8 or 10 hours a night is not easy for many of us with everything going on. School is starting soon, or already has for some of you – but what does that mean? Something different for everyone! Maybe you get to play a sport or an instrument. Maybe you don’t. Maybe you go to school online in your bedroom. Maybe you’re in a classroom. Maybe you get to see friends – maybe not.
It’s been a long time since things were normal, hasn’t it? How are your parents doing? Are they stressed? Is their stress trickling down to you? Are they around? How are you handling that and is it helping your sleep pattern?
I’m just saying – none of this is helping you sleep better, is it? And sleeping well is a fundamental need of someone your age to function properly and stay healthy.
THE CIRCADIAN RHYTHM – Have you ever heard of this? It’s a human being’s normal sleep rhythm that is in sync with nature. It matches the way the seasons change and the Earth turns and the amount of sunlight that is available each day. If you are struggling with sleep this just may be the answer to finding your way back to a better rhythm.
YOU DESERVE BETTER
Think of it this way…with everything going on in the world today you DESERVE THIS. You deserve a nice steady, peaceful night of sleep that will have you ready and prepared for each day. So how can understanding the Circadian Rhythm help? Well, I’m going to start with a few things you need to consider first that you might need to kick to the curb. (at least around bedtime)
Things That Need to Go
- Hardcore exercise
- Big meals
- Screens (Phone, TV, Computer, etc.)
And there is one special note about caffeine. There should be NO caffeine after 6PM. Caffeine will completely sabotage your night of sleep. In fact, it would be best if you could eliminate it completely from your diet – but that’s another What’s New blog post that maybe you’ll see in the future! [end rant] The other things on the list really just need to be avoided the hour before bedtime.
Okay…now back to the Circadian Rhythm and how to understand it. Imagine a day divided into eight equal parts and it looks a lot like a weird clock. Only this is a 24 hour clock and midnight is at the very top. Noon is at the bottom. Six o’clock in the morning is directly to the right, and 6:00PM is directly to the left.
PRIME SLEEP RHYTHM
The one eighth section before midnight at the top of the “clock” represents 9PM to midnight. This is the time of day that your body NATURALLY secretes melatonin into your bloodstream. If you don’t know what that is; it’s a chemical that helps you sleep that your body makes. So, sometime between 9PM and midnight is a good time to make a regular bedtime routine. This is when you have your best chance of falling asleep naturally.
Between midnight and 6AM is when your body is supposed to have its prime sleep hours, starting with restorative sleep, then deep sleep, then REM sleep. The melatonin in your body keeps releasing naturally until about 6AM, which is a good time for you to begin to wake up and start your day – anytime between 6AM and 9AM.
PRIME AWAKE RHYTHM
Start your day by immediately getting sunlight. This can be accomplished by opening a curtain, eating breakfast on the porch, taking a walk or exercising outside. Maybe you have other ideas – but get sunlight. Doing this trains your body to wake up at a certain time every day.
Your natural prime “awake” hours according to our Circadian Rhythm is around 9AM – 6PM. Between 9AM and 6PM we are at our prime alertness, best coordination, fastest reaction time and it is the perfect time to schooling, socialization, movement and various activities.
GO SLOWLY WITHIN
Even though we don’t go to bed at 6PM, our bodies and minds do start to wind down at that time. After 6PM and towards your bedtime is a good time to reflect on your day, work on journal entries, slow down and work on activities that require less energy like reading, art journaling, yoga, etc.. Let your body and mind go slowly within and prepare for sleep even if you are not quite ready for it. Do relaxing and low energy activities. Now is not the time to amp up the interaction with others on social media or play violent video games. It will not help your process. Just a note… you may read this is and think, “no way – that’s not me”. But remember, it won’t “be you” if you are off or resisting your natural rhythm. But this is what our bodies want to do.
HAVING A ROUTINE
Go anywhere on the web looking for tips on how to sleep better and they will tell you to “have a routine”. But I ask – “what does that mean”? This [the Circadian Rhythm] is what they mean by having a routine. It’s to pay attention to the natural cycle of sleep-awake that is in sync with nature and makes our overall health even better.
This is a great simple website where you can find more information about the Circadian Rhythm and it also has a simple diagram of the clock we are talking about. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE