Is my body clock out of sync?
What is a body clock?
Your body clock, or circadian rhythm, is a system where your brain sends signals to the rest of your body when it’s time to sleep. Your body clock helps you regulate periods of sleepiness and alertness throughout the day, telling you when you need to rest. This helps you rest at the right times so that your body can repair itself while you sleep.
Why is my body clock out of sync?
It’s disruptions to your circadian rhythm that knock your body clock out of sync. Some of these disruptions include:
1. Experiencing jet lag
If you’ve been travelling to destinations with a different time zone, this could affect your internal body clock. The thing is, your natural body clock is having to adjust each time you enter a different time zone, which is confusing. When you experience jet lag, it actually disrupts two groups of neurons in the brain that are associated with sleep and REM. So, if you’ve ever come home and realized you’re exhausted but it’s still daylight, or you’re awake and it’s night time, then this is your body is still adjusting to the change.
2. Being too hot or too cold
A study in 2018 reports that mammals use their body temperature to control their sleep cycles. And us humans are no different. We use our circadian clocks to organize our sleep, without even knowing it. How? Regardless of the temperature of the room you’re in, during the night, your body tries to cool down to reserve energy while it recuperates for the next day. When our body wants to wake up, our body temperature increases, preparing your body to be awake.
3. Too dark or light
Light is the strongest environmental clue to our bodies that it’s time to wake up. So if it’s too light, your body won’t be ready to fall asleep. Your body produces different amounts of melatonin, which is a hormone that regulates your body clock. Your body automatically increases the amount of melatonin it produces when it gets dark, telling you it’s time for sleep.
4. Shift work
It’s common for shift workers to experience sleep struggles. If this sounds familiar, it’s because your circadian body clock isn’t aligned with your environment. For example, if you’re getting up for work during the night, and then going to bed when the sun rises, this will confuse your internal body clock.
So, what can you do to reset your body clock? Find out five helpful techniques you can use if you need to know how to cure broken sleep.
How to reset your body clock: Top tips
1. Dim the lights at night time
Swap the big, bright light for a dimmer night light if possible. This goes for lights emitted by your electronic devices too, for example your cellphone, tablet and laptop, if you have them. All of these devices emit a blue light that make it harder for you to fall asleep. Turning them off, you’ll be surprised how much quicker you might start to feel tired, allowing you a more natural night’s rest. Alternatively, look to use the night shift setting on your devices, to reduce the blue light they emit.
Investing in high quality blackout blinds or curtains will also help to reset your body clock because it’s a simple, but effective way of blocking out daylight, allowing your body to feel sleepy, and get a good night’s rest.
2. Remember to exercise, earlier
After a work out, you tend to feel more alert in the day, and you find it easier to drift off at night time. Did you know that the time of day you exercise also affects your quality of sleep? If you do high-intensity workouts in the evening, you might find that you’re extremely energetic from the release of endorphins, and you don’t want to sleep. Try exercising earlier in the day, so your body will then be tired when it comes to bedtime.
3. Stick to a routine
If you’re employed on shift work, this might be difficult for you. But if you can, try to make sure you’ve got a bedtime routine, and that you stick to it. Head to bed at the same time each night, where possible, and find a relaxation technique to get ready for sleep. Run a warm bath or listen to calming music or white noise. Lots of people find reading a book relaxes them just before bed. As you encourage your body into a routine, it will get used to knowing when you need to sleep, and your quality of sleep will improve in turn.
4. Monitor your temperature
If you’re finding that you are too hot or too cold to sleep, it might be that you need to re-evaluate whether the bedding you’re sleeping on is right for your body. When you snooze, your body needs to be at just the right temperature to comfortably pass through the five stages of sleep that each last for a different number of minutes. When you pass through these stages, it means you’re getting the right quality of sleep, which allows your body to relax and repair its muscles, restore your energy and process the day’s brain activity.
That’s why it can make all the difference if you’re not sleeping on the right bedding, and maintaining a healthy sleeping temperature. Did you know that wool can regulate your temperature when you’re asleep? Wool bedding is made from a completely organic and breathable material, which means it keeps you cozy if you’re chilly, and cooler if you’re warm. By choosing bedding that monitors and maintains your temperature for you, it means your body can focus on getting the best night’s sleep.
Learn how to improve your sleep quality
Now you’re more clued up on the best ways to reset your body clock, why not find out how to improve your sleep quality? Alternatively, head over to our Sleep, Health and Advice Hub for more sleep-related advice and guidance.