Two Morning Habits That Will Dramatically Improve Sleep and Your Workday
Tap into the power of your circadian rhythm... your body clock.
The Circadian Rhythm – Body Clock regulates the (approximately) 24-hour cycle of biological processes. There are patterns of brain wave activity, hormone production, cell regeneration, and other biological activities linked to this 24-hour cycle. Basically, its function it to keep the body functioning in balance (homeostasis).
Imbalances to the Circadian Rhythm cause difficulty falling asleep and/or staying asleep, fluctuations in energy and mood, depression, insomnia, “Winter Blues”, fatigue.
Pretty much any new studies that emerge today, such as how sleep deprivation can increase risk for diseases including diabetes, obesity and cancers, or how lack of sleep can result in poor performance.
The key for great health, energy, and sleep is to connect your cellular clocks with the natural ebb and flow of nature’s cycles, so you live a life of balance and vitality.
When we ignore these cycles of nature, we disturb our inner clocks, life becomes a struggle as we are going against this natural current.
American circadian rhythm scientists Jeffrey C. Hall and Michael Rosbash from Brandeis University and Michael W. Young from Rockefeller University were recognized and awarded $1.1 million for their insights in explaining “how plants, animals and humans adapt their biological rhythm so that it is synchronised with the Earth’s revolutions.” In other words, how the internal body clock, known as the circadian rhythm, in organisms explain why people wake up during the day and sleep at night.
Many people usually focus solely on their night-time habits and routines for getting a good night’s sleep, which is important, but getting a great night's sleep starts with your morning habits. Just as a football team sets the tone in the first quarter to dictate the flow of the game, it's important that you start the morning (your first quarter) off in an ideal manner, to dictate the flow of your workday (and ability to sleep at night).
Improve your workday along with your sleep by using these habits to support your body clock:
1. Wake up at the same time each day.
Developing a consistent wake-up time trains your body to emerge from sleep when it needs to and keeps your circadian rhythm in its ideal flow - therefore leading to a more productive workday.
When we regulate our body clock, our rhythm for the day is set to release the various hormones at the correct and specific times. This plays a key role in mood, energy, appearance and also sleep. It allows cortisol (our get up and go) hormone to be released upon awakening in sufficient quantity to create energy for the day ahead, and allows melatonin (our sleep) hormone to be naturally released at the right time in the evening to create sleepiness for deep refreshing sleep.
2. Expose yourself to light in the morning.
In the morning you want exposure to light as it helps calibrate your circadian rhythm to its proper sleep-wake cycle by activating the pineal gland (a small endocrine glad located in the middle of the brain)
Exposing yourself to light upon awakening kickstarts your day and removes morning grogginess sooner due to the suppression of melatonin (our sleep hormone) and an increase in cortisol (our energy chemical). Which means you can feel fresh in the morning without relying on your cup of coffee!
As mentioned before, cortisol in the morning is important as it helps with energy, mood and alertness, essential elements for a productive workday.
The best way to do this is to get at least 10 minutes of direct morning sun on your face. If you can wake at sunrise and practice the act of ‘sun gazing’ this is even better.
This tip is extremely beneficial for those that travel a lot and are finding themselves in different time zones. It helps to alleviate jetlag and assists aligning your body clock to local time faster.
In contrast to this, have you every struggled with sleeping at night after watching tv, working late or scrolling on your devices right before going to bed? The probability is high that this problem stems from excessive exposure to the bright blue lights from digital device screens and from other artificial lighting, which suppresses melatonin production.
On this note, another tip for sound sleep is to disconnect with technology at least 2 hours before bed to allow the correct and natural release of sleep hormones.
When we start to connect to the daily rhythms our days are full of energy throughout the day, we are hungry at the right times, we are less dependant on stimulants such as coffee or energy drinks to get us going, and also less dependant on sleeping aides to help us fall asleep at night. We are more productive, creative and fulfilled.
So give these simple tips a go and see how they impact your workday.
Author: Tegan Wallis
Tegan is a Naturopath, Ayurveda Health Consultant and Yoga Teacher at Griffith Consulting's sister company, Veda Wellness.
Tegan is one of Griffith Consulting's key program facilitators and specialises in workplace health & wellness.
For more information about Tegan or her services, please go to: www.vedawellness.com.au