Are you singing the blues? – Your circadian rhythm may be off beat.
If you are familiar with circadian rhythm and the importance of blue light I hope you read the title of this article and got a good laugh. It’s important for your health to laugh, so feel free to thank me in the comments. If you are not familiar with this topic hopefully after reading this I get, at least, a chuckle.
Sleep is one of the body’s many ways of naturally healing itself. Lack of or poor sleep can cause many different health issues. Did you know that poor sleep can cause weight gain, poor brain function, adverse effects on blood sugar, depression, inflammation and poor immune function just to name a few? Several studies have found that people who don’t get enough sleep are also at greater risk of heart disease or stroke. Sleep loss can even affect your ability to interact socially and recognize or process emotional information.
I was recently watching a show that tested contestants, who had remained awake for more than 24 hours, in a series of challenges all designed to show how sleep will decrease your ability to function properly. I was not surprised to see that many of the contestants were unable to perform simple tasks as well as the rested test group. Now, one bad night of sleep may not have major health consequences but imagine the stress this can put on your body over a longer period of time.
What is your circadian rhythm?
Have you ever flown into another time zone and felt tired and out of balance? You may have called it “jet lag.” This can also happen when you adjust your sleeping patterns on the weekend and try to get back to your weekday routine. This is another form of jet lag. Just about every living thing has an internal 24-hour rhythm or clock. This rhythm helps you to balance many internal processes between sleeping hours and awake hours. These patterns effect physical, mental and behavioral systems.
You may have heard of a “biological clock.” A biological clock will produce circadian rhythms and regulate timing. In the human body we have these little clocks in nearly every tissue and organ and they all report to one master clock. This is the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus [sü-prə-ˌkī-əz-ˈma-tik noo-klee-uhs]. One clock to rule them all. I’m not gonna lie, this sounds like something right out of a sci-fi movie. Biological clocks produce circadian rhythms and regulate timing.
Setting your circadian rhythm
Unlike setting the clock on the kitchen stove and knowing that it will remain the same, at least until the power goes out, your circadian rhythm can be influenced by your environment. The main environmental influence to your circadian rhythm is daylight. Daylight is so powerful that it can actually change the timing of your biological clocks. Since your circadian rhythm can influence your sleep-wake cycle, hormones, digestion and many other things, it is important to consider ways to keep this system functioning properly.
So what can you do to keep your circadian rhythm in balance. Well, first things first, if you feel like your circadian rhythm is off balance it is important to consult a medical professional.
As I mentioned before, daylight is an important factor when considering your circadian rhythm. If you think about it, it has only been in recent times that we find ourselves staying up late, working on a computer, forcing ourselves to finish a movie or looking at our phones late into the evening. These are just a few examples of ways we can throw off our circadian rhythm.
The Blue Light Issue
Much about light and how it effects our body is still being learned, but one thing that has been discovered is the power of blue light to affect our circadian rhythm. (Are you starting to get the title of this article?) An article published by Harvard Health states, “While light of any kind can suppress the secretion of Melatonin, blue light at night does so more powerfully.” So what does this mean? Well, Melatonin is an important hormone for regulating sleep patterns. By reducing this in the evening, your body has a harder time figuring out a natural sleep pattern. So, to put it simply, blue light in the evening messes with sleep hormones and can throw off your circadian rhythm.
A few ways to reduce your blue light exposure in the evening are:
- Avoid LED or florescent lights in the evening
- See if your computer monitor or TV has a night or “Blue Light Reduction” mode.
- Use a blue light filter on your phone (or put it down and read a book instead)
- Try Blue Light Blocking Glasses
Daytime Blue Light
Just to be clear I am not saying that blue light is evil. Blue light is found all over the place. One place that blue light can really benefit you is outside. The sun emits blue light and can help you feel more alert and even elevate your mood. So, it is important to get outside during the day and soak up the healthy rays of the sun. By following the patterns of the sun (as long as you are not in the Arctic Circle) you can help to keep your circadian rhythm in balance.
So, if you are trying to get your body back on rhythm, managing your blue light exposure is a great way to help. Avoid the blue light in the evening and soak up that sun during the day. You can try incorporating a morning walk outside to tell your body that it is time to be alert and dim the lights in the evening to tell your body it is time to sleep.
Getting the most out of your sleep
Getting your sleep patterns in order can provide great long term benefit. Something else to look at is what happens during your sleep. Proper diet is key to your body’s recovery during this time. Haelan 951 offers some much needed nutrients for rebuilding your body during sleep. If you are looking to get the most out of your sleep try adding Haelan 951 to your diet and give your body what it needs to repair itself during this time.