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How To Get A Better Night’s Rest: 3 Factors That Impact Your Body Clock

How To Get A Better Night’s Rest: 3 Factors That Impact Your Body Clock

How To Get A Better Night’s Rest: 3 Factors That Impact Your Body Clock
 
The “body clock” or biological clock regulates our bodily processes in a 24-hour period causing physical, mental, and behavioural changes that respond to light and dark. One of these is the sleep-wake cycle which, when properly functioning, allows us to have consistent and restorative sleep.
 
A better night’s rest is crucial to all areas of our wellbeing, so we set out to find three factors that can impact our body clock.
 
1. Exposure To Light
The most powerful of all influences on the body clock is exposure to light. To put it simply, the area of the brain that controls circadian rhythms sends signals to the body to regulate things like hormones, digestion, and energy.
 
When our bodies are exposed to light (think natural sources like the sun, and artificial sources like indoor lighting) the brain assumes it is daytime and therefore sets off a chain of signals to promote alertness and energy expenditure (amongst other things). Exposure to lighting at night (from LED globes, TVs, phones and other technology sources) can disrupt our body’s natural circadian rhythm and disrupt our ability to wind down at night.
 
Fix – To ensure your sleep-wake cycle is not thrown into disarray, limit use of screen devices and powerful lighting at night and think about changing your bedroom light globes to warm white filament globes rather than cool white LED globes which give off blue light.
 
2. Shift Work
For many of us shift work is a normal part of daily life and essential to keeping our economy running. But did you know that shift work can also have a powerful effect on our sleep, and unfortunately not a positive one? When the body is awake at night and trying to get sleep during the day, we are working against our systems natural body clock and forcing ourselves to be alert when it wants to relax. This cycle can lead to poor quality of sleep, trouble getting to sleep and excessive sleepiness while awake.
 
Fix – Keep your sleep consistent by trying to go to bed at the same time, and waking up at the same time, even when not shift working. Limit exposure to light before sleep by closing the curtains or blinds in your house, avoiding screen time, and keeping your bedroom as dark and as noise free as possible.
 
3. Large Meals Before Bed 
In a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, researchers found that eating large meals, particularly those containing a lot of spice, and drinking carbonated or caffeinated beverages before bed, increased the odds of waking up after falling asleep. Individuals who consumed a meal less than 1 hour prior to bed were more than twice as likely to wake up during the night and experience interrupted patterns of sleep.
Fix – Try to finish eating at least 2-3 hours before going to sleep where possible and avoid having your largest meal of the day right before bed. If you’re particularly sensitive to interrupted sleep, avoid carbonated beverages at night and limit caffeine to before 1pm.
 
Information sourced from The Wellness Workshop: https://www.thewellnessworkshop.com.au/

What Are Circadian Rhythms? National Institute of general Medical Sciences