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Understanding your circadian rhythm

By Tori Taylor, May 31 2019 —

Call me Seattle because I’m sleepless AF. Insomnia is the Sid to my Nancy. As I wrap up my 20s, the wear and tear of sleep deprivation is rapidly catching up to me. The time has come to leave my draining nocturnal habits behind and figure out the whole “bedtime” thing.  

Recently, I decided to put time into understanding a biological process called circadian rhythm. If you have ever noticed a regular pattern to your energy levels and wondered why, this is your circadian rhythm talking to you. The sleep/wake cycle of the human body revolves around two basic hormones — cortisol and melatonin. When you wake up, you should experience more alertness and energy — this is cortisol. When you go to bed, you should notice fatigue and drowsiness — this is melatonin.

Personally, I wake up exhausted and spend most of my late nights lol-ing at memes with more alertness than I ever experience during daylight hours. I taught myself how to twerk — very poorly — at 3 a.m. on a Tuesday. And as enriching as that skill has been in my life, staying awake all night is not how to refresh my brain for early morning classes.

Finding habits to encourage a steady circadian rhythm will help your mind and body handle day-to-day stress. Proper sleep cycles will strengthen your immune system and keep your mental health nourished.  

It is important to pay attention to your cell phone or laptop usage in the late evenings. The blue light emitted from our devices does not promote melatonin production. Switching to a red light after 9 p.m. can be programmed automatically into your electronics. This amber hue won’t mess with your circadian rhythm and will allow your body to produce the proper hormones in the evening to help you sleep.

Using your blinds to block out late night and early morning sunlight hours is also a method you can use to help maintain the right amount of sleeping hours. You can also buy eye masks to keep your bedtime dark and waking time light, especially when the sun is seasonally up during sleepier hours.

If you are finding that your sleep is restless and fleeting, it may be time to look into how you can assist your body’s natural instincts instead of fighting against them as you simultaneously Snap about insomnia, tag Insta memes about exhaustion and watch Friends season four for the 97th time.

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