Sleep plays a vital role in your health. Not just getting enough sleep, but truly getting quality sleep at the right time. When this occurs, your physical health, mental health, alertness and quality of life will be aligned and functioning correctly.
Your body’s biological clock, otherwise known as your circadian rhythm, is all dependent on two hormones your body produces: cortisol and melatonin. The daily production of these two hormones will determine if your body is awake and alert or asleep and at rest.
Cortisol’s job is to peak in the morning to help us wake up and feel alert. It motivates you to get going and start your day. As your day progresses, melatonin levels start to rise which tells your body to slow down and prepare for sleep. If either of these two hormones are not functioning properly, you can feel tired midday or alert late at night.
If this seems to be something that you struggle with, you are not alone. According to Satchin Panda, Ph.D., author of The Circadian Code: Lose Weight, Supercharge Your Energy, and Transform Your Health From Morning to Midnight, and a leader in the emerging science of the circadian rhythm, "When you don't honor this daily rhythm or let this cycle get out of whack, it can contribute to weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure, and many other diseases."
So how do you know how to keep these hormones balanced and working properly? An article on Mind Body Green states that according to Lynn Laboranti, M.S., R.D., a registered dietitian for Nature Made, one the "major driving factors" of sleep disruption is a symptom of our crazy-busy lives: the blue light from our screens in the evening. "When we're exposed to the light during the day, it suppresses the production of melatonin to keep us alert. But at nighttime, we might be exposed to light from our phone or computer screens, which can shut melatonin down and when we really need it to work for us to promote restful sleep," she explains.
How often are you scrolling your phone before falling asleep? Or even watching some show on Netflix that you have become hooked to find out how the season ends? These are small but major factors in the functionality of our hormones.
Then what is the solution? iPhone has a setting called Bedtime which switches from the harsh blue light to a soften yellow to help promote your natural sleep-wake cycle. There are also multiple companies coming out with blue light glasses to help block the light coming into your eyes and throwing off your daily cycle as well. But each of these are just putting a bandaid on the problem.
The real solution is going outside as well as creating a daily rhythm for your body to follow. The sun is the biggest teller of when our bodies should be awake and when we should be asleep. A weekend without electronics spent out in nature can set your body back to producing healthy hormones and sleep cycle.
According to Ellen Vora, M.D., a holistic psychiatrist and mbg Collective member and class instructor, this makes a lot of sense: "I recommend that my patients crawl into bed super early—even as early as 9:30 p.m. (although many of my patients are shocked when I first suggest this, thinking, that's not bedtime, that's practically dinnertime!). Many of my patients' insomnia, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and ADHD improve significantly with this earlier bedtime. The reasoning is that the human body functions best when it's in sync with the sun and the moon," she says.
Many doctors recommend when creating a sleep cycle to even follow it on the weekends. Your body, muscles, brain, etc all has a memory. When it is able to follow what was done the day before, the more consistent your hormones will be produced. They also recommend that within an hour of getting up to go outside and get that morning sun on your skin. This wakes up and tells your body that it is time to move and be active throughout the day. It’s all about communicating with our body. When it feels the warmth of the sun, it knows to be active. When it feels the cool of the moon, it know to be at rest.
If creating a habit of falling asleep at the same time each night, try creating a night time hygiene routine. This may include brushing your teeth, washing your face, putting on essential oils or even drinking a glass of warm tea ( non caffeinated of course.) This will also tell your body to wind down and prepare for sleep. The same goes for the morning. Creating a morning routine will help your body produce cortisol. Some things to try are drinking a glass of lemon water first thing in the morning, exercising, walking your dog, or even a cup of coffee. Habits create health.
Your sleep cycle is very important and should not be taken lightly. Damage from sleep deficiency can cause harm over time. It increases the risk for some chronic health problems.
It's time for you to start shutting off your electronics at a decent time each night and get your beauty sleep. If you need help with your morning routine, come to Mantra and start your morning with us! We would love to see your face bright and early on the megaformer for a high intensity, low impact workout that will get your day into full swing.
Remember habits create health, so what choices to create healthy sleep habits are you taking?
Mantra Fitness OC