Modern day, 24 hour lifestyle has a way of screwing up our circadian rhythms. These rhythms are important for our general health overall. Proper hormone regulation relies on the timing of these day/night cycles. When they’re working properly, you’ll be alert during the day and sleepy at the appropriate time. Here are a few guidelines to help optimally set this clock, and you can take advantage of better health as a result!
- The most important factor for setting this clock is the quality and timing of light. Start by getting at least 10 minutes of outdoor light, ideally within 2 hours of when it rises (low solar angle light, its quality and effect on the brain are different than mid-day light). Wearing sunglasses or looking at the light through a window will lessen the overall positive benefit.
- In addition, it’s ideal to get 2 hours of outdoor light throughout the day if possible. This will help reduce the disruption of your circadian rhythm caused by any light exposure at night.
- Try to catch another 10 minutes of outdoor, low solar angle light towards sunset. This will signal your brain to begin preparing the body for sleep.
- Avoid bright lights after 8 PM, and try to avoid ALL light between 11 PM and 4 AM. Light at this time will make your brain want to keep you up later on the subsequent night.
- After sunset, the lights you use should be low to the ground (table lamps as opposed to ceiling lights). Use lower wattage bulbs that still allow the light you need for evening activity.
- Try avoiding screens at night if you can. At the very least use a blue light filter on your phone or computer. Blue blocker glasses are available, but should only be worn at night.
- Your room should be as dark as possible for sleep. Use blackout shades, and any electronics in the room should not have any visible light coming from them.
- Try to maintain a consistent bedtime. If you stay up later than the set time, do not go to bed earlier the next night to try to “catch up”. Just go back to bed at your set time.
- If you need to get up during the night, using a low level red bulb will disrupt sleep the least.