The reason we feel so great when we're on a regular sleep cycle is because we're setting our circadian rhythm — the tiny master clock structure in our brain that is filled with nerve cells and is the pattern of sleep and awake cycles, affected by light. What's interesting to note is that people who live in complete darkness (hello — Reykjavik in the Winter!) are still able to adjust to a 25-hour clock with regular sleeping and waking patterns. Here's what the natural daily circadian rhythm looks like.
Keep reading to learn some tips and tricks for getting your circadian rhythms back on track this Spring.
- Rise and Shine With the Sun: I know with hectic schedules and juggling the responsibilities of life, it can be difficult to not only get to bed at a decent hour, but to actually wake up when the rooster cock-a-doodle-doos (er, I mean when the alarm clock goes off) and the sun rises. Try winding down an hour before the time you would like to get to bed by taking a bath with some lavender salts, by drinking an herbal tea like chamomile or valerian root and by reading something that doesn't over stimulate the brain (this does not include TV or laptop time!).
- Exercise: Physical activity can certainly promote deeper sleep, but just makes sure it's at least five hours before bedtime. It might also be a good idea to take this questionnaire that will help you be more aware of your own natural circadian rhythm (yes, you'll now know whether you should work out in the mornings or in the evenings).
- Set the Mood: Make sure your sleeping sanctuary is cool, dimly lit, and as sleep-friendly as possible. If you don't have blackout shades and your room isn't very dark, try wearing a sleep mask.