Many people have trouble with effective sleeping in modern days. It is difficult for us to get up in the morning without a few alarms, and in the evening, when it’s time to rest, we can not sleep for most of the night. Often there is also the feeling of total exhaustion, despite the night’s sleep or waking up and we can not sleep for a long time. All through a disturbed circadian rhythm that in the long run makes it difficult to function and leads to various types of hormonal disorders.
All through a disturbed circadian rhythm that in the long run makes it difficult to function and leads to various types of hormonal disorders.
Circadian rhythm – what should it look like?
It is said that people are divided into early birds (people who like to get up in the morning and go to sleep early) and night owls (people who work better at night and get up very late). From a physiological point of view, we are all really created to be larks. Being an owl is simply a sign that our circadian rhythm is strongly disturbed and sooner or later we will feel the effects on ourselves. For centuries people have been used to going to sleep early, as soon as it got dark and to get up with the sun. There used to be much more in the open air. It all favoured the proper functioning of the hormonal system.
Currently, the fact that we have access to light, favours a long sitting in the evenings. We also spend less time outside, we have little contact with nature, little traffic. This makes our body simply cease to distinguish the day from the night, and this contributes to various types of disorders.
This makes our body simply cease to distinguish the day from the night, and this contributes to various types of disorders.
How do hormones affect the quality of sleep?
Correct rest and sleep are extremely important so that we can function efficiently during the day. In fact, sleep is the foundation of good health. Why? Let’s check what is happening in our body when we fall asleep:
- the body is regenerating, the damaged cells are repairing
- estrogens make us fall asleep sooner, the REM phase is prolonged (so-called deep sleep phase)
- melatonin effects drowsiness, sleep quality and regulation of circadian rhythm
- during sleep, the level of hormones and neurotransmitters are regulated
Disturbed circadian rhythm – effects
What happens when we spend our nights or sleep most of the day for years? Or when we work on night shifts?
The right amount of sleep affects the levels of leptin and ghrelin (hormones of satiety and hunger) – making it easier to feel satiety with meals. When our circadian rhythm is disturbed, it is harder for us to eat until the fulfilment of our needs, and in result, we can have a constant feeling of hunger and we are more willing to crave for unhealthy dishes.
Sleep also affects the regulation of carbohydrates metabolism – less than 6 hours of sleep contributes to the fact that our body has difficulties to regulate the level of sugar. Then, from the morning, we crave for sweet things and a large number of carbohydrates. If this condition persists longer, the risk of developing insulin resistance or, increases and we have difficulty maintaining healthy body weight.
A small amount of sleep also promotes adrenaline exhaustion, and this introduces us to a vicious circle. Cortisol levels are constantly disturbed – in the evening they are too high for us to quickly fall asleep and in the morning too low to get up easily. Because of this, it is difficult for us to change habits related to the circadian rhythm and the problem is getting deeper and deeper.
How to improve the quality of sleep and restore the natural circadian rhythm?
When we have hormonal problems, in addition to diet and supplementation, lifestyle changes are also necessary, which should have a positive effect on the regulation of the endocrine system. This is an extremely important step on your way to a good state of health and you can not ignore it! So what do you do to get back on track? Here are some tips
Exposure to blue light
Limit exposure to blue light in the evening – artificial light from televisions, computers, smartphones disrupts natural melatonin production and makes our body, despite the evening, think that it is still day. It affects the lack of desire to sleep and excessive agitation in the evening. Too much exposure to such light also affects the increased production of growth hormone, which in turn contributes to faster ageing (and puberty in children).
It is best not to use a computer, tablet or smartphone for two hours before bedtime. Take this time for the family, read a book, take a bath – it will perfectly prepare the body for sleep and rest.
However, if you need to work or enjoy watching the movie in the evenings, try to put a special filter on the screen. Applications that filter light appropriately and reduce damage caused by exposure are available on tablets, smartphones and computers.
Get to bed earlier!
Go to sleep at the latest between 21.00 a.m. 22.30. During these hours, melatonin is released, which helps you fall asleep and improve the quality of sleep. Try to lie down and get up at the same time every day. Weekend sleep off does not make it easier to get to proper balance.
Take care of darkness in the bedroom
Sleep in a completely dark room – turn off all light sources (this also applies to lights in standby mode in electronics), cover the windows with blinds so that there is no light. Any source of light blocks the secretion of melatonin and makes our body think that it is still day.
The right temperature for sleeping
Also take care of the right temperature to sleep (about 20 degrees Celsius is usually optimal, but you have to adjust it to your personal likings) and moisture of the air in the room. It is also worth ventilating the room before sleeping.
The diet also matters
Avoid coffee, yerba mate and strong tea infusions in the afternoon and evening – it can over-stimulate your organism. Do not drink alcohol in the evening – alcohol makes the body focus on its metabolism and excretion from the body, and not on regeneration during sleep.
Do not overeat in the evening – as in the case of alcohol, the body focuses on digestion instead of regenerating. Try to eat the last meal 2-3 hours before going to bed. For some people, falling asleep helps a carbohydrate dose for dinner (it improves serotonin and tryptophan production), but it’s worth checking on yourself if this applies to you.
Low level of magnesium cause not only muscle cramps – but it can also contribute to insomnia. Magnesium takes part in over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body, including the production of neurotransmitters, which play a significant role in regulating the circadian rhythm. Magnesium is worth taking in the evening – it calms down and facilitates regeneration.
Stay active during the day
Try to spend as much time outside as possible during the day – it helps furtherly to regulate the circadian rhythm. Take care not only about workouts at the gym but about the highest amount of natural movement like walking, cycling etc. For example, if the weather allows to, you can choose to walk, or cycle home, rather than go by bus, or car!
Learn to relax
Adequate relaxation affects the regulation of the circadian rhythm – you can try meditation, deep breaths or sign up for yoga or tai chi classes. With frequent sleep problems, you can also try aromatherapy – for example, chamomile or Frankincense (Boswellia carteri) aromas should do the trick.
Adjusting the circadian rhythm is extremely important to restore the hormonal balance. Thanks to this, you will regenerate faster after training, memory and concentration will also improve and inflammation states will worry you no more!.