While you may be familiar with your circadian rhythm — your body’s natural way of following a 24-hour clock — circadian health can optimize your sleep-wake cycle to benefit your overall health.
How Does Your Circadian Rhythm Affect Your Health?
Maintaining a consistent sleep-wake cycle that allows for seven to nine hours of sleep each night is critical to your overall health. People who struggle consistently with getting enough sleep experience both short- and long-term health effects.
In the short term, circadian rhythm disruptions cause:
- Poor energy
- Memory issues
- Digestive concerns
- Slow healing
- Inconsistent body temperatures
- Hormonal issues
When you maintain poor circadian health, you can experience long-term effects throughout your body, including:
- Poor metabolism
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Skin concerns
- Problems with your cardiovascular system
Additionally, poor circadian health is linked to diabetes, obesity, and mental health conditions.
Improving Your Circadian Health
Improving your circadian health begins with understanding your current habits and routines. One of the easiest ways to track your circadian health is to keep a log for one week that tracks your bedtimes, wake-up times, exercise habits, time spent outdoors, and diet — especially foods consumed just before bedtime.
Then, look for areas where you can make improvements. Some people only need to tweak a couple of their routines, while others may need to reset to restore their circadian health completely.
Some methods to improve your circadian health include:
- Maintain a consistent routine and sleep schedule
- Take a walk outdoors in early daylight to promote wakefulness
- Get enough daily exercise
- Sleep in a restful environment with proper temperatures and lighting
- Avoid screens for one to two hours before bedtime
- Avoid alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine in the evenings
While implementing all changes at once can be difficult, starting with small changes can allow you to progressively see benefits and provide motivation for more changes to restore your circadian health.
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