Master Your Circadian Rhythm and Sleep Like a Rock
When we're not getting enough sleep, it can feel as though there's a dark cloud hanging over our heads. And while lack of sleep has been linked to several health problems, including heart disease and stroke, getting more shut-eye may also help you live longer. But how do we get better sleep?
Well, some experts have suggested that we should all live like our ancestors did—in other words, sleeping in complete darkness with no electronics nearby will help us fall asleep faster and stay asleep for longer periods of time. Those who support this theory say that by living with our circadian rhythm instead of against it (by going to bed at sundown rather than midnight) we'll achieve healthier rest habits overall. Here are five ways to get better sleep:
#1. Start Your Day With The Sun
- Sunlight helps you wake up. Did you know that sunlight stimulates the part of your brain that tells you when it's time to get up? This means it can be used as a substitute for an alarm clock, which is great news if you're not a morning person or if waking up in the dark stresses out your body and mind.
- Sunlight helps you sleep better. Sunlight also helps regulate blood sugar levels, reducing sugar crashes later in the day and ensuring consistent energy levels throughout your workday (or evening).
- It improves moods and lowers stress levels. If this isn't enough reason to start sleeping with more sun on your face every morning, consider what else sunlight does: boosts serotonin levels in our brains (which makes us feel happier), increases vitamin D production (which regulates our immune systems), decreases cortisol levels (which reduces stress), and increases melatonin production (the hormone responsible for regulating sleep patterns).
#2. Sleep In Complete Darkness- Without Electronics Nearby
Our ancestors slept with no electronics around. Their bedrooms were dark, like the caves they inhabited. Sleep scientists now know that natural darkness is critical for producing melatonin, a hormone that helps you sleep and wake up at the right times.
Blue light is emitted by all screens—phones, tablets, TVs and computers—and can suppress melatonin production by over 50%. When your body's internal clock is out of whack due to lack of sleepiness at night or grogginess during the day (which are signs of poor sleep!), it's important to avoid this type of artificial light as much as possible to reset your circadian rhythm and get on track for healthy sleeping patterns again.
Speaking of electronics; It’s no small fact that everything we do and experience is energy. As a matter of fact, your precious brain, the master computer system of your entire body, utilizes up to 20% of your caloric intake just to function optimally. Proper operation of the hypothalamus, pituitary and pineal glands within the brain ensure deep, healing and restorative levels of sleep.
#3. Go To Bed At Sundown
Going to bed at sundown is the best way to adjust your body's clock to sleep by having it reset by darkness. The main reason why this is true is because the body's internal clock responds strongly to light and darkness, but not as much so with other stimuli such as temperature or physical activity. You can think of your circadian system as a kind of watch—it runs on its own schedule, which gets reset by daylight when you wake up in the morning. That schedule then begins ticking again once sundown hits (or something else acts as a cue), and you get sleepy enough that it becomes important for your health if you want adequate rest at night.
Think about what happens after staying up late: Your brain doesn't know what time it is anymore since there isn't any natural light coming through your window! It'll tell itself that nighttime ended hours ago and consequently think it's time for bed...even though there's still plenty of daylight left outside! It might seem like common sense that going out during daylight hours would make us sleepy—but going outside won't affect our circadian rhythms nearly as much as artificial light does!
#4. Live With Your Circadian Rhythm, Not Against It
You can do this by being mindful of your natural rhythm. Some people are naturally morning larks, others are night owls. Your lifestyle should conform to your own body's needs as much as possible, not the other way around.
- If you're a morning person: Well done! You're already in tune with your circadian rhythms and probably feel great after rising early each day. But if you're not a morning person, it doesn't mean that you must become one—you still have the right to live your life according to what makes sense for you and your needs. If waking up at 7 AM would make you miserable or lead to burnout after several years of trying it out (as I found out), then don't force yourself into that schedule—find another way forward instead! For example:
- Go outside when possible, during daylight hours so that sunlight can help keep your brain from staying groggy too long; consider investing in blackout curtains if going outside isn't an option;
- Get enough sleep at night (and if needed take naps during the day)
#5. Keep The Room Cool (Between 60-67 Degrees Fahrenheit) And Your Body Even Cooler
Let’s start off with a fun question... Do you sleep better in the cold? There are a few reasons why the temperature of your room matters. First, it can help you fall asleep faster. As the body's core temperature lowers, it signals to the brain that it is time for sleep.
Second, cooler temperatures help with restful sleep by reducing body movements during sleep and increasing total sleep time. Thirdly, cooler temperatures may also be more beneficial for people who tend to wake up during the night due to hot flashes or other heat-related issues (although this isn't proven yet).
With the overwhelming amount of vegetable and seed oils in our food supplies nowadays, it’s no surprise that our sleep suffers... These inflammatory fats (And processed foods in general) have a way of disrupting our sleep cycle and revving up fiery distress within the body.
The good news is that DHA and EPA found within Omega 3 fatty acids (Such as those in Wild Caught Fish Eggs), may indeed have anti-inflammatory properties to help calm the neurological and endocrine systems. (*1)
Our Ancestors Slept Well And You Can Too!
Our ancestors got more sleep than we do and it was not because of their shorter lives. They were able to get more rest because they had a better understanding of circadian rhythms, the internal clock that helps keep us on a 24-hour schedule. And if you want to be like them (and I think you should), here's how:
- Get outside in nature as much as possible in the daylight hours. Spending time outside during the day will help balance your body's natural rhythm with the sun's rising and setting.
- Avoid artificial light at night, especially blue light (which comes from screens). Blue light tricks your body into thinking its daytime by suppressing melatonin production—the hormone that makes us feel sleepy at night—so avoid looking at any screens after dinner if you want better sleep quality!
- Not only can lack of sleep cause dizziness, but a host of other deleterious effects upon the body as well. Naturally, we don’t want this. Meditational and spiritual practices such as yoga and prayer can help mentally and emotionally detoxify the stresses of the day, to ensure deeper sleep.
- Our ancestors had an abundance of minerals within their soils. Unsurprisingly, magnesium (included in our Ancestral Minerals) – a precious mineral takes the crown and scepter, hand over fist, in terms of helping you to catch more ZZZ's. And as a matter of fact, magnesium glycinate is the most common form of magnesium used to help in treating sleep disorders. (*2)
For our ancestors, sleep was a luxury. Surely such questions as, “is 2 hours of sleep better than none?” never crossed their minds. They had to make sure that they were always rested and alert, since there was no guarantee of when or where the next meal would come from. Today, we have all sorts of technology designed to help us sleep better—but the truth is that many of those “sleep hacks” are counterproductive for getting good rest!
If you really want to learn how to get better sleep, then start by following these simple tips and see what happens. Who knows? Maybe one day soon, this blog post will be obsolete because everyone will have figured out how keep their ancestral circadian rhythm in balance with nature!
By the way... We believe that the very best things in life (including valuable information) should be free. So please check out some additional tips to help get the Best Sleep you possibly can!
Sometimes we need a leg up, too. There’s nothing wrong with this! Even with knowledge and the application of it, our bodies and systems could really use some extra resources. Especially if we’re consistently running on 'low,’ there are additional things we can do to provide aid and relief to our tired minds.
Enter our Beef Brain - pumped full of brain cell activators, BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factors) as well as peptides and sphingomyelin (that’s a big word, you say! And spot on. It’s responsible for cellular strength and structure of the brain cells. Very important, right? *4) Not to mention some of those fantastic, anti-inflammatory omega-3’s!
Each of these precious components may help calm down an inflamed and overworked, burdened and just flat-out-exhausted mind. You deserve the rest, and we’ve just seen it help so many people to not suggest otherwise.
Armed with even more knowledge, tips and resources... We’re hoping that you’ll greatly benefit from this blog post, and your sleep will improve, too. See you in the dream world! We’ll be right there with you; counting bison while you count the sheep.
Sources:*1 - Omega-3s improve sleep quality in over 45s (nutraingredients-usa.com)
*2 - Magnesium Glycinate: The Magnificent Mineral For Better Sleep – PineTales®
*3 - The Ultimate Ancestral Guide To Better Sleep - Ancestral Supplements
*4 - What Is Sphingomyelin? - Creative Proteomics Blog (creative-proteomics.com)