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Want Better Sleep and More Energy?
Get Your Circadian Rhythm Right. It Matters.

Want Better Sleep and More Energy?
Get Your Circadian Rhythm Right. It Matters.

by Michael Cohen

When it comes to sleep—and health—getting your circadian rhythm right matters. A lot.

The circadian rhythm is a 24-hour cycle that’s part of your body’s internal clock. It’s influenced by the environment, such as light, and lifestyle, like eating and exercise times.

A well-adjusted circadian rhythm results in high-quality sleep and optimum body and brain rest. When it’s not well adjusted, it can cause sleep issues like insomnia or frequent waking. A disrupted circadian rhythm can affect attention, mood, and overall physical and mental health.

In a pre-electrified world, the circadian rhythm worked like it was supposed to, responding to sunlight with wakefulness and the dark of night with sleep. However, with the advent of the electric lightbulb and, more recently, all sorts of devices and screens that light up 24/7, your internal clock might go, well, bonkers, and make it difficult to go to sleep when you need to, or to stay asleep, or cause you to wake up too early.

It’s tempting, we know, to get on Instagram or TikTok or Facebook for an hour or two at night or watch just one more episode of that streaming documentary you’re really into. But if you’re struggling with a sleep issue, you’re doing exactly the opposite of what you should be doing.

Electronic devices, including TVs, emit blue and white light that fools your brain into thinking the sun is out and you should be awake. It’s not surprising, therefore, that burrowing under the covers after saying good night to your device doesn’t bring on the Sandman. This is a long-term process – the effects sneak up on you over time.

Click here for information on the Center for Brain Training’s program for insomnia and disturbed sleep.

Here are some other mistakes that people with sleep problems often make that interfere with their circadian rhythm, and what to do about them:

Here are some other mistakes that people with sleep problems often make that interfere with their circadian rhythm, and what to do about them:

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Sleeping with a bedside lamp turned on
Your bedroom should be as dark as possible. If it’s bright enough for you to distinguish items in the room, it’s too bright. If you need a nightlight, red or orange is the least disruptive color. Wear a sleep mask.

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A Sleep Routine Matters
Not having a sleep routine
Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. Take at least an hour before you go to sleep to be in a quiet, darkened environment.

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Drinking a caffeinated beverage too close to bedtime.
Don’t consume caffeine any closer to bedtime than six hours.

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Having a snack or heavy meal within an hour of bedtime.
Your body’s digestive system at work can interfere with relaxing enough to go to sleep or stay asleep. Avoid eating within three hours of bedtime.

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Nighttime exposure to WiFi
Turn off your router’s WiFi at night. If you can’t, turn off your devices’ WiFi, and keep your router as far from your bedroom as possible. The electromagnetic frequency emitted by routers has been shown to decrease the production of melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that puts you into a state of quiet wakefulness to promote sleep.

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Not exercising or exercising too close to bedtime.
Exercise can have a positive impact on sleep by releasing endorphins or relieving the symptoms of anxiety or depression. When you do exercise, don’t do so any closer to bedtime than 60 minutes (90 minutes is even better). Studies have shown that exercising too close to bedtime lowers the amount of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which interferes with the body’s rest cycle as well as cognitive performance.

The Center for Brain Training has a sleep program that has helped dozens of clients. Click here to learn more about it or contact us.

P.S. – If you want to take a deeper dive into the circadian rhythm, click here for an excellent article by Mary Van Keuren.

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