The sleep-wake rhythm is the body's natural way of telling us when to sleep and when to get up. It also triggers important biological processes that help us function optimally.
If we feel tired or depressed, it could be because our cycle is disrupted by too much screen time and not enough good light exposure.
The circadian rhythm helps us control our daily sleep-wake rhythm. This rhythm is linked to our 24-hour body clock. It is influenced by external factors such as light and darkness. Our brain receives signals that activate certain hormones and affect our body temperature. Hormones such as melatonin and cortisol can either rise or fall due to the influence of the circadian rhythm.
Melatonin, for example, is there to make us sleepy. It is secreted mainly in the evening and at night, and is largely suppressed during the day.
Cortisol, on the other hand, does just the opposite. It makes us more alert and is produced by our body in the morning when bright daylight shines on our eyes.
Unfortunately, our lifestyle often upsets this rhythm. Reasons for this include long working hours, traveling to other time zones, stress, late eating and drinking, and looking at screens just before bedtime.
If you feel that the circadian rhythm is out of balance, the following things should be considered:
- Try to keep a routine every day.
- Sit in a bright room in the morning, or preferably go outside right away, so that the sun's rays hit the receptors in your eyes.
- Spend a lot of time outdoors.
- Get enough exercise every day.
- Make sure you don't sit under bright lights in the evening (yellow/red light would be better, because then more melatonin is produced and you can fall asleep better).
- Make sure the bedroom is dark.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine in the evening.
- Turn off all screens before going to bed.