Circadian Rhythm: The System That Regulates Your Sleep
Your circadian rhythm is your internal biological clock that controls your sleep- and wake- cycles.
Yes, somewhere inside your cells is a real clock that tells you when to get tired and fall asleep, and when to get energized and wake up for the next day.
This circadian timing system is a very powerful system that controls many aspects of your day-to-day life.
It releases hormones that help you control your mental energy, digestion, immune system, appetite, blood pressure and a lot more.
Importantly, it also regulates which hormones you secrete. Some of these hormones start processes in your body to make you tired and fall asleep. Others start processes that wake you up and make you alert.
Our ancestors have had this same biological system to guide their days and nights as long as humans have been around.
It evolved to take in cues from the environment such as light and temperature to tell when it’s night (and you should get tired and fall asleep), and when it’s daytime (when you should be alert and stay awake).
For the vast majority of human history, this system worked fine. Our ancestors’ circadian rhythms were perfectly synced to nature. We woke up when the day began, and became tired and fell asleep when night fell.
But in the last few hundred years, with our technological advancements, we created the opportunity to disrupt our natural circadian rhythm. Many people have accidentally desynchronized their circadian rhythms from the natural rhythms of nature.
A whole range of our natural rhythms in our body to keep us healthy, happy and productive can now suddenly malfunction. The result is that some people have trouble falling asleep at night, have less deep sleep and have trouble waking up in the morning.
One of the best ways to sleep better is to sync your circadian rhythm with nature.
Melatonin: The Sleep-Regulating Hormone
The main hormone responsible for sleep is melatonin.
It regulates your sleep. It tells you when you should sleep at night, makes you feel tired, and tells you when you should wake up the next morning.
Melatonin is naturally produced by the pineal gland in your body. It sends signals to your cells to prepare you for sleep. Your circadian rhythm secretes it naturally when it gets darker at night.
Not only does it help you fall asleep. More importantly, it improves your overall sleep quality, by helping to create the optimal conditions in your body for getting amazing sleep that rejuvenates you.
More than just giving you better sleep, melatonin has been proven to boost your health in a number of ways. It improves your immune system, DNA protection, thyroid function and weight reduction. And it decreases headaches and the risk of certain troublesome conditions.
While melatonin is produced naturally, many people unwittingly do things that reduce the secretion of melatonin, or delay it by several hours. Many people even become melatonin-deficient, producing too little for optimal effects.
Anything that reduces or delays your melatonin production or secretion will make it harder for you to fall asleep and stay asleep.