Why am I wearing these ridiculously sexy glasses whilst working at my computer in the evening?
Why, to protect my circadian rhythm of course!
Circadian rhythm is our body’s 24-hour clock that regulates our sleep and wake cycles. When this natural rhythm gets upset, our energy level and sleep quality go to pot! Think about it. Do you ever find yourself wide awake at night when you should be going to bed? Are you tired in the mornings or do you get an afternoon slump of energy? This could all be because your circadian rhythm has been disrupted.
Back in the day we would wake and sleep with the sun rise and set, but with our modern way of life we are shut indoors all day away from the sun, and we are stimulated by tv screens, lighting, computers, and mobile phones in our evening when we should be winding down in the dark.
Why is this such an issue? Well, bright lights in the evening stimulate our pineal gland which produces our sleep hormone melatonin (melatonin is also produced in the gut so good gut health is also important but that’s for another post!). Less melatonin is therefore produced. Melatonin is not only our sleep hormone, but it is also one of the body’s important antioxidants.
Melatonin actually goes into our mitochondria (our energy powerhouses) and protects them from oxidative and nitrosative stress and is way more powerful than acai and goji berries! We must protect circadian rhythm to protect our melatonin production, which in turn protects our mitochondria and therefore our energy.
Not only that but altered circadian rhythm also upsets autophagy. Autophagy is the cellular clean up mechanism where damaged cells get gobbled up and recycled as new healthy cells and mitochondria are formed. Autophagy takes place predominantly at night, so if you aren’t getting deep restful sleep, less autophagy occurs, which speeds up aging, and suppresses cellular and mitochondrial regeneration (again impacting our energy levels).
But it doesn’t stop there! Circadian rhythm upset also affects our neurotransmitter production, so we have less serotonin (mood, joy, pleasure), dopamine (pleasure, reward, motivation/drive and stress tolerance), GABA (relaxation and calm), and Orexin (energy and wakefulness). Which all leads to an unhappy, deflated, knackered, wired, stressed out, burnt out, sleep deprived…ok I could go on but you get the picture!
Messed up hey! I don’t look so silly in my glasses now do I!?
Ok so I don’t expect you to be outdoors all day and basking in the moonlight…well not everyday anyway! Lol!…but there are some things you can easily implement into your day to help protect your circadian rhythm.
1. Get a pair of “blue blocker glasses” that block blue (and green if you are hardcore like me) wavelengths of light (try TrueDark or SafetyBlue). My super sexy SafetyBlue Sleep Saviour Ultra wrap around glasses are the best, as these avoid light entering from the sides of the lens.
2. Ensure you get bright sunlight in your mornings – this helps to set your circadian rhythm in place right from the start of the day (if you are a shift worker make sure you have all the lights on!) Avoid bright lights in the evening – I like to use salt lamps for a low, warm light (and decreased fire hazard compared with candles!)
3. Avoid stimulating screen time (nothing that makes you want “just one more” episode!)
4. Set your ipad/phone’s brightness to change automatically in the evening – just a flash of blue light from your phone reduces melatonin by 60%! Better still…make after 8pm a phone/device-free time!
5. Get blackout curtains or wear an eyemask and ensure there are no lights from clock radios etc in your bedroom
6. Eat dinner early and try a 10-11 hour feeding window (I personally like an 8-hour eating window). Autophagy happens during the nightly fast so max out your autophagy time by not going to bed on a dinner that still needs digesting.
Don’t forget to let me know how you go and how your energy and sleep improves! Would love a pic of you in your sexy glasses too!