Detox Your Internal Clock

August 2, 2013

CampingStruggling to sleep well? Have a few extra pounds? Heart health concerns?

Maybe you need to reset your circadian rhythms. Since electric lights became common, we’ve become more nocturnal, our schedules helter skelter (whether you work a shift job with changing hours or a 9-5 and let go on the weekends) and it messes with our bodies natural cycles.

You’re circadian rhythms tell your body when to release melatonin (which puts you to sleep), causes changes in your blood pressure, and times out your bowel movements, hunger, etc.

When this gets off, you might do things that are bad for you: eat more often (or eat less often, but eat less healthy or too much), sleep too few hours, have irregular bowel movements, and put pressure on your cardiovascular system. Plus, when more of your waking hours happen after sunset, you’re not getting your Vitamin D from those missed hours of sun exposure.

Luckily, science has found a reset button.

Go camping. For a week. No lights, a proper bedtime, and some good ‘ole Vitamin D.

Volunteers who went camping (sans cell phones and flashlights) were in synch with the rising and setting of the sun by the end of the week—which meant their bodies hormones and melatonin were sending the right signals at the right times.

What does this mean for you? You don’t necessarily have to go camping. (But it’s a cheap, easy way to reset your body’s cues). You can incorporate the ideas into your daily life.

Make bedtime (even if it’s not night time) dark time. Ban electronics (save a bedside lamp) from your bedroom, think about installing blackout curtains, and commit yourself to going to bed at the same time every night—and make that lights out. If you have trouble falling asleep at first, try meditating.

When you wake up, get some light. Ideally, get some sunlight (it’s a good time to take a walk). Then have breakfast. Yes, I know there’s a study saying skip breakfast to lose weight. But breakfast starts your metabolism, and signals to your body what it needs to do to digest the rest of the day, so eat a breakfast that covers lots of food groups.

Are you rigorous with light exposure?

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