Have you ever realized that you don’t have to actually tell your body it’s time to go to sleep? It usually just happens. One moment you’re energized and then next you’re feeling drowsy and your eyelids are shutting. This is all due to the sleep-wake cycle, or circadian rhythm, that exist internally in our minds.
So what exactly is a circadian rhythm? Keeping reading.
The Circadian Rhythm
The circadian rhythm is an internal system that communicates to your body when you are tired and when you are energized. Unsurprisingly, this internal clock is responsive to light. Therefore, when the sun is rising, our brains are more alert and awake, and when it’s dark outside, our minds are ready to shut down and rejuvenate. This internal device controls the level at which we are wakeful during the day and night.
How It Works
Our sleep-wake cycle is determined by various chemicals and hormones in your bodies. During the day, these chemicals may rise and fall as they please. For example, adenosine is a chemical that makes you feel sleepy. Our adenosine receptors build up during the day and then release the chemical, usually at night, telling our bodies that it’s time for bed. Once you fall asleep, your levels will drop again and the cycle repeats itself.
Fun fact: Caffeine blocks our adenosine receptor, allowing us to stay awake even when we’re feeling exhausted.
Another hormone, commonly used as a supplement, is melatonin. Melatonin also regulates the sleep-wake cycle by making your body feel drowsy. The hormone starts to build in the late afternoon and through the night, and once morning hits, melatonin levels drop.
Sleep-Wake Cycle Disturbances
Perhaps the most common sleep-wake cycle disturbance is light. The light from our lamps and especially television, phone, and computer screens, interrupts the production of melatonin. This is why it’s recommended to step away from the screens and turn to a book a couple hours before bed. As a result, your melatonin levels will stay high and you are less likely to have trouble getting to sleep.
Shift work and overnight shifts are also a common disrupter of our circadian rhythm. It’s our bodies natural tendency to want to sleep during the night and be awake during the day. If you are obligated to reverse your sleep-wake cycle, there are a few things you can do to help get to sleep quicker.
To override your internal clock, here are some things you can do:
- Turn the lights on as soon as your alarm goes off
- Wear sunglasses during the day
- Purchase blackout curtains
- Wear a sleeping mask
- Munch on bedtime snacks during the day
A major component of a good night’s sleep is the mattress you rest on. Often times we forget how important it is to be comfortable, cool, and well supported during the night. A sturdy, cozy, and organic mattress is the way to go. Transform your bedroom with the purchase of a new mattress and improve the quality of your sleep and your life with Mattress World.