Light and You - How does Natural Light affect our Mental Health
5 easy ways to improve your circadian rhythm
Do you find yourself wired when you go to bed? You try to go to bed at a reasonable hour but find you’re up until the early hours of the morning and you just can’t get to sleep. If you’re suffering from sleepless nights, it could be because your body clock is out of whack. Your body doesn’t know when you should be asleep and when you should be awake! This could be due to your circadian rhythm.
What is a circadian rhythm?
A circadian rhythm is essential to everyone on the planet. It is our body’s natural 24-hour internal clock that is responsible for our sleeping patterns, regulating temperature, blood pressure, digestion, and general alertness. The circadian rhythm is controlled within the hypothalamus region of the brain, located near the base of the brain. In this area of the brain, there is a cluster of approximately 20,000 neurons known as the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN).
When light enters your eyes, it activates a signal that gets sent to the SCN which interprets information about what time of day it is. If it’s the morning, it will tell your brain to wake up and get ready for the day ahead.
What happens when it’s disturbed?
Our circadian rhythms are not fixed. It can change as we get older or because of other influences like fluctuating work schedules, travel, stress, long naps, medications, and even short exposure to artificial light can disrupt our circadian rhythm!
When it’s disturbed, it can lead to several health problems including a worsened metabolism, heart problems, insomnia, a weakened immune system and studies have even linked it to an elevated risk of breast and prostate cancer. It’s important to look after your health and make sure you are getting the right amount of light, so your body is in alignment.
5 ways to improve your circadian rhythm.
If you’re having sleep issues or think you have an unhealthy circadian rhythm, changing your biological clock will benefit your health. Here are five quick and easy tips to help improve your body clock:
1. Get outside for sunrise and sunset!
In a perfect world, our body clocks would be in sync with sunrise and sunset but with shift schedules and desk jobs, that can be hard to achieve! If you are wanting to improve your circadian rhythm fast, going outside for sunrise and sunset will help reset your circadian rhythm. Let your naked eyes be exposed to the natural light of the sun. This will help signal the hypothalamus part of your brain to start waking up or start winding down for the evening. You don’t have to stand outside for long, 5 minutes is more than enough. Make sure your eyes are naked and you’re not hiding behind sunglasses, contacts, or windows. The goal here is to let your eyes really absorb the natural light.
2. Create a bedtime routine!
The easiest way to improve your natural body clock is to go to bed at the same time every night. A simple routine could be:
- - Limit screen time or turn off your phone 2 hours before bed.
- - Do something relaxing like, read a book, write in your journal, have a bath or shower, drink herbal tea.
- - Go straight to bed.
Leave your bed for sleep. Don’t bring your laptop or check emails from your bed as your brain will start associating sleep time with work and this can disrupt your circadian rhythm hugely.
3. Exercise during the day
Exercising early in the morning or in the afternoon is a great way to get blood flowing through your body and improve your overall wellbeing. You will feel refreshed and focused for the day. Don’t exercise too late in the evening. Exercising at nighttime will stimulate and confuse your body, making it harder to fall asleep.
4. Consistent mealtimes
Our bodies take a lot of energy to digest food. By creating a consistent eating schedule for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day will help regulate your circadian system. It also signals the body on what to do next. Aligning your mealtimes with your circadian rhythm will help with weight loss, improve productivity, and can help lower blood pressure.
5. Install a skylight!
Sitting 8 hours a day in a dull office with a flickering fluorescent light is enough to drive anyone crazy! Artificial light doesn’t even come close to replicating the quality of natural light and the positive impacts it has on us, including achieving a circadian rhythm balance.
Daylight helps improve our productivity, increases our focus and is the best way to regulate our circadian rhythm. If your office or home doesn’t let in a lot of natural daylight, a Solatube skylight can help.
With a Solatube skylight, the light is captured by a rooftop dome and transferred through a reflective metal tube down to a diffuser that disperses the light evenly throughout the room. No more dealing with flickering lights!
This solution doesn’t require any power to run and it only takes a couple of hours to install, saving you money on your energy bill and allowing you to live more sustainably.
The more regular your sleeping patterns, eating patterns and exposure to natural light patterns are, the better your circadian rhythm will be. If you want to reduce the amount of artificial light that you are exposed to and bathe your home in the goodness of natural daylight, contact our friendly team today!