Losing Sleep? Morning Sunlight Can Improve Your Circadian Rhythm

An article I read by Madeline Kennedy in the San Diego Tribune recently reported the results of a study on sleep, by lead author, Mariana Figueiro.  There was a group of 109 office workers who were studied. During the middle of the summer they wore light measuring devices for one week. They recorded their sleep times and wake times, mood and mental alertness.

Sunlight exposure helps with sleep cycle

Those workers exposed to higher levels of light during the morning hours between 8 am and 12 pm reported better sleep patterns. The subjects also had fewer sleep disturbances, and fell asleep much quicker than those only exposed to low levels of light in the morning hours.

Why is this? Its all about our circadian rhythm… and what is our circadian rhythm?

Our circadian rhythm is basically a 24-hour internal clock that is running in the background of our brains and cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals. It’s in control of our sleep/wake cycle.

When we notice feeling energized and drowsy around the same times every day, we have our body’s circadian rhythm to thank for that.

Loosing Sleep? Morning Sunlight Can Improve Your Circadian Rhythm. Those exposed to sunlight between 8am-12pm will fall asleep faster and stay asleep.

How Does Your Circadian Rhythm Work?

It’s controlled by our hypothalamus, a portion of our brain, that is largely impacted by the amount of light and darkness taken in by our eyes.

When it’s dark, our eyes send a signal to the hypothalamus that it’s time to feel tired.  Our brain, in turn, sends a signal to our body to release melatonin, which makes our body feel tired. That’s why our circadian rhythm tends to coincide with the cycle of daytime and nighttime .

The opposite effect takes place in the hypothalamus when we’re exposed to bright light.  Both sunlight and indoor light exposure induce greater melatonin suppression which creates greater mental alertness, cognitive performance, and faster reaction time.

In addition to sleeping and waking, the hypothalamus influences your body systems over a 24-hour period.  As your environment changes, your internal clock uses these lighting cues to gradually reset yourself.

Circadian Rhythm and Sleep

Your circadian rhythm works best when we have regular sleep habits, like going to bed at night and waking up in the morning around the same time. When things get in the way, like jet lag, daylight savings time, or an evening where we stay up until the wee hours of the morning, we may disrupt our circadian rhythm.

Can you believe that our sleep cycle rhythm  takes about one full day for every hour it’s disrupted to reset itself?

What Can We Do To Get  Our Circadian Rhythm on an Optimal Schedule?

  • Pay attention to your sleep cycle and journal your sleep and wake times for a week
  • Go outside in the bright sunlight for lunch
  • Take a break during the day to go for a 10 minute walk outside
  • Look out a window throughout the day.
  • Adjust your sleep and wake time so it is consistent

If we suffer from a lack of quality sleep for too long it may contribute to more serious problems down the road including issues with mood, thinking clearly, decision making, slower metabolism and reduced immune system function.

As Figueiro advises, “Look out a window, seek light during the day, especially during the morning; go out during lunch hour.”

FYI – we highly recommending our Vitamin Spray Sleep Slumber.  Just five sprays under the tongue will do the trick. Good for use by any age.

Fall Asleep, Stay Asleep

Fall Asleep, Stay Asleep … Sleep Well.

Don Bodenbach
Don Bodenbach

You lay your head on the pillow at night. Every cell in your body is craving deep, restful sleep. But despite being mentally and physically exhausted there is a part of your brain that won’t shut off.

Instead of steadily drifting deeper and deeper into sleep, one thought after another keeps interrupting your fall into slumber. Or you may initially fall asleep but something causes you to wake up after a couple of hours. According to some medical experts, these kinds of sleep problems are now the number one complaint in doctor’s offices in the United States.

What I’m about to say may sound a little counter intuitive, but once you understand it you can solve your sleep problem for good, so stay with me.

The truth is…..

              You Don’t Really Have a “Sleep” Problem!

Huh? I know what you’re thinking…then what’s going on when I can’t fall asleep or I wake up at 3 in the morning and can’t get back to sleep?

If that’s not a sleep problem then what is? Well, it’s the opposite of a sleep problem….

You Have An Awake Problem!

The current paradigm for “treating” sleep problems is either the “sedative effect” (Trying to knock you out with sleeping pills or natural sleep aids) or “sleep hygiene” recommendations. (warm baths, new pillow, new bed, darken your room, count sheep)

You can also go to a sleep clinic, spend the night and have a sleep study done. Some of the newer and more innovative approaches are sleep restriction therapy, biofeedback, stimulus-control therapy (helps you better associate the bedroom with sleep) and bright light therapy.  However, once you consider all these options you still won’t know or find out the most important question of all…. “What’s causing my insomnia.” The reason is because the system is set up to “treat” your sleep problem, not solve it.

The Hormone That Wakes You Up Is Preventing You From Sleeping

Did you know that the most powerful stress hormone in your body also controls your sleep cycle?

The same hormone that puts your mind and body on “high alert” during stress, also rises to wake you up in the morning and falls at night so you can sleep.

What do you think would happen if this hormone, known as cortisol, was elevated in your system when you’re ready for bed?

The very hormone that wakes you up and promotes hyper-awareness during stress cannot be pumping through your veins when you are ready for sleep! This is known as an upside down cortisol rhythm.

So How On Earth Did You Get An “Upside Down” Cortisol Rhythm?

Well, it’s very simple. You probably call it “YOUR LIFE.” Elevating your cortisol levels higher and later into the night is a side effect of today’s “hurry and worry” society. Sleeping problems are a direct result of pushing your body past it’s individual threshold for handling stress and maintaining a normal circadian (cortisol) rhythm.

Sleep Disorder Or Disordered Sleep?

If you have a sleep problem it can be due to either a sleep disorder, which is a medical issue that needs appropriate treatment or it can be disordered sleep, you simply can’t fall asleep, stay asleep or get quality sleep. This article is about Insomnia and disordered sleep. Technically insomnia is considered a sleep disorder however by definition it is “the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep for as long as desired.”

This broad definition has left experts divided as to whether insomnia is a sleep disorder or disordered sleep. Sleep disorders such as Sleep Apnea, Bruxism, Restless Leg Syndrome and Narcolepsy are defined medical conditions that although they may be helped by treatments protocols for disordered sleep, need medical diagnosis and support.

This term “disordered sleep” refers to sleep problems that are not considered a sleep disorder. You just have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or don’t get quality sleep. It gets old real fast and a night or two of tossing and turning will have you looking for relief.

 The Duel Effect Of Lemon Balm Extract And Magnesium

Fixing a cortisol rhythm that’s out of balance takes know how. There are very few things we know of that has a direct effect on a hormone like cortisol where the problem is too much. Deficiencies in hormones are easy to treat, but excesses require specialized knowledge. The combination of a specific lemon balm extract and a formulation of three types of the mineral magnesium work to prevent elevated cortisol.

These two products, combined with a few lifestyle adjustments (limiting caffeine and sugar) have proven to be a fast and effective way to safely and naturally solve your sleep problem. Modern day sleep problems have two parts. Your immediate need and the long term solution. Lemon balm extract and magnesium are required for both.

In my book I outlined The Sleep Tonight Solution, for your immediate need and The Sleep Protocol for the long term solution. I’ll give you a free digital copy at www.fallasleepstayasleep.com

If you get your cortisol balanced and get some deep, restful slumber then  the positive domino effect of benefits will dramatically transform your quality of life.

Lights out and sweet dreams,

Don Bodenbach

Don Bodenbach is the author of Fall Asleep, Stay Asleep. He has been an investigative reporter and consumer advocate for natural and alternative medicine for 35 years. www.fallasleepstayasleep.com