It’s one thing to know we need more zzzs but sometimes it’s a little hard to actually catch them. More than half of adults have some difficulty with sleep and a how to guide would be super helpful. One of the best ways to improve sleep is to follow your body’s biologic clock. It’s actually a thing and its called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). This clock is situated in your brain, behind your eyes. It’s this supper tiny command center that controls the body’s circadian rhythm – the rhythmic body changes that occur throughout the day. The SCN takes cues from the light that comes through your eyes. It’s the presence or absence of light that determines what signals it will send to the rest of the body. When there is a lot of bright light coming through your eyes, signals are sent through the brain and body that it’s time to stay awake. When the spectrum of light changes or becomes dim then different cues are transmitted to prepare the body to go down.
In our natural circadian rhythm the sleepy hormone (melatonin) begins to rise at 9pm. It’s around this time that the tiny command center is preparing to send out orders to put the body in repair and restoration mode. It is expecting near zero light input through the eyes around this time. If we are going to work with the body’s rhythm to catch some good zzzs then we need to start preparing for shut eye when the sleepy hormone starts to rise. About an hour before 9pm is a great time to start dimming the lights throughout your home.
The SCN also responds to light spectrums and exposure to blue light signals that it is wake up time. Red spectrum light is different though. This spectrum does not prevent the SCN from sending out sleep signals. Translation please? Blue spectrum lights are emitted from our devices, cell phones, lap tops, TVs. This light exposure before bed affects how long it takes to actually fall asleep. We should stop starring at these screens at least an hour before bed. If we need to use them during our sleep time prep then be sure to change the light spectrum of your device. You can do this in settings by selecting night mode.
Your body thrives on regularity so try to stick to the same bed time every night. I know this is easier said than done but with a lot of practice this can become a reality. Some good sleep could be just what the doctor ordered.
Here’s to catching all your zzzzzs.