How to master your body clock for better sleep
What’s the best time to go to bed? Should you nap during the day? How much sleep do you actually need? While sleep studies all seem to disagree on the answers, one thing is for certain: no two people are the same, and getting in touch with your own, natural circadian rhythms might be the key to better sleep.
Your circadian rhythm, more commonly known as the ‘body clock’, refers to a cluster of nerve cells that regulate levels of sleepiness and wakefulness over a 24-hour period. This sleep/wake cycle varies from individual to individual, but also throughout an individual’s life. For example, teenagers have a drive to sleep for longer and go to bed and wake up later. This tendency reverses as we age so that, by the time we hit our mid-50s, we go back to the sleep patterns of our 10 year-old self, going to sleep and rising early.
Some people have a shorter natural cycle (morning larks) and others have a longer one (night owls) which affects their alertness and performance at different times of the day. If you rely heavily on caffeine and always seem to rush to get to work in the morning, chances are you’re more of an owl. If you feel at your best in the first half of the day, chances are you’re more of a lark. Having said that, extreme larks and owls are rare and most of us lie somewhere in the middle of the spectrum.
Following your body’s natural cues is essential in terms of keeping your inner clock balanced and optimising your sleep quality. Clear disruptors of your biological clock include shift work and jet lag. However, there are sneakier environmental factors that can throw you off kilter, like the blue light from your phone, the lack of sunlight in your office or a change in your routine.
Restore a healthy circadian rhythm with the following 3 tips:
Get some sun early in the morning and throughout the day
Exposure to light has a powerful influence on your body clock. Taking a walk outside first thing in the morning is the best way to boost your energy. No time for a walk? Open the blinds. Turn on the lights. Get as much light as possible to tell your brain it’s time to wake up.
It’s also recommended to get some sun during the day, especially if your workplace or house doesn’t get much natural light.
Eat and sleep at regular times
Whether we like it or not, we are creatures of habit. It may be tempting to stay up late one night to get some work done or play catch up on weekends with sleep ins and long naps, but doing so is bad news for your biological clock! Stay consistent in your sleep schedule, getting up and going to bed roughly at the same time everyday. Your eating habits should also stay fairly regular. Above all, listen to your body; don’t skip breakfast if you feel like you need it and don’t overindulge before bed if that’s going to disturb your sleep.
Turn off tech devices at night
Night time exposure to blue light is one of the biggest culprits of out-of-whack sleep patterns. The blue light from your phone, tablet or laptop tricks your brain into staying awake and delays the production of melatonin (the sleep hormone). So there’s really no two ways about it: power down at least one hour before bed and switch to relaxing activities like reading, writing or meditation.
We hope this post helped you better understand your body clock. If you feel like your quality of sleep is being affected by other factors, like your partner’s movements, overheating, or a sore back, try and explore your mattress options with our Mattress Selector.