RESETTING YOUR SLEEP PATTERNS AND CIRCADIAN RHYTHM

Lockdown has played havoc with our sleep patterns and circadian rhythms. We’re out of our normal routines, spending a lot more time on our devices, and missing out on the amount of sunshine that used to be a natural part of heading out to work at a particular time. Added to this, there’s the added anxiety of lockdown – not knowing what’s happening with our jobs, health, the economy and the future. Of course, with less sleep, we become even more anxious.

This is a dangerous combination and spells bad news for our long-term sleep patterns. What’s more, getting enough sleep reduces your risk of contracting viruses like Covid-19 by up to 33%. So, it’s more important now than ever to get enough good quality sleep.

Keeping regular patterns gives your circadian rhythm the best conditions under which to work. So, what can we do?

Resetting Your Circadian Rhythm

1.       See the Light

The daily cycles of light and dark are the silent cues for your body. So, make a point of sitting in the full sun for a few minutes throughout the day. Of course, wear sunscreen, when necessary. But, it’s crucial to get this full natural light. Bright light inhibits melatonin, which is known as the ‘sleepy hormone’.

As the sun starts to set, dim the lights in your home space too. Then, sleep in a room that is very dark (with no light coming from devices). For this reason, a camping trip may do wonders to reset your rhythms.

2.       Reset Your Eating Times

When and what you eat affects your sleep. Even animals’ circadian rhythms will change according to the availability of food. To reset bad eating habits, fast for about 16 hours until you are sleeping normally again (this is also helpful for jetlag). So, eat your supper at about 16h00 and then have your next meal and drink the next day at about 08h00.

Once your pattern has normalised, eat at regular times and always try to give your body a 12-hour break from eating (or drinking anything but water).

3.       Cut Screen Time

The lights of your device interfere with your sleep patterns, delaying the circadian clock by interfering with our natural rhythms. In addition to this, there’s also the added anxiety that comes with the content you’re watching. Whether it’s watching disturbing news stories or reading blogs about anything that doesn’t actively calm the heart and mind, this content only keeps our minds spinning for longer.

If reading helps you to sleep, opt for actual books or, if absolutely necessary, a non-light-emitting eReader.

4.       Exercise

Regular exercise means that you fall asleep sooner and sleep better. The best times to exercise are before 07h00 and between 13h00 and 16h00 as these improve the functioning of the body clock. If you exercise between 19h00 and 22h00, it may take longer to reach your peak performance zone the following day.

More Tips

  • Don’t nap. Being on lockdown invariably means a bit of boredom sometimes. Resist the urge to take a nap during the day. This only interferes with your night rhythms of sleep.
  • Invest in the right mattress. If you sleep on your side, a softer mattress may be better. If you sleep on your back, you’ll probably prefer a firmer mattress.
  • Say no to all forms of caffeine after lunchtime.
  • Create a cosy, comforting bedtime routine and environment.
  • Think positive thoughts, rather than tossing and turning and worrying about not sleeping.

Supplements to Help You Sleep

Sometimes, supplements may be exactly what you need to kick-start a much healthier sleep cycle. Although these products have so many benefits to your health and body, they also play a crucial role in sleep:

  1. Organamin – thanks to the high levels of minerals, the muscles are relaxed and a natural sleep pattern is induced. It is recommended that you take Organimin at about 17h00 for best results that night.

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