Updated: Feb 14
Our bodies operate on something called our Circadian Rhythm. This 24-hour cycle is basically your body’s “internal clock”, where physical, mental, and behavioral changes occur that keep our essential functions and processes working properly. These processes include things like hormonal changes, body temperature, and eating habits.
The light and darkness of day and night, respectively6, have a direct affect on our circadian rhythm. This is why it is so important to be conscious of our sleep habits, because of the way our environment affects our body’s and how our body’s respond naturally to our environment.
Below are the four biological processes that affect your circadian rhythm:
Cells: Cells in our brain are affected by lightness and darkness. When our eyes capture light or darkness, this sends signals to our brain and body regarding sleep and wakefulness.
Hormones: Melatonin and cortisol cause sleepiness and alertness to the brain.
Body temperature and metabolism: Our body temperature drops when we sleep and rises when we wake. Similarly, our metabolism rates fluctuate throughout the day.
Other factors: Work hours, age, physical activity, and other lifestyle habits.
Consistency is Key
When it comes to getting quality sleep, it's not just the length of time, but the consistency in the sleep schedule.
Research completed by NPJ Digital Medicine showed that the variability in sleep habits significantly affected participants' mood and depression, regardless of the total number of hours slept.
How can we apply this to a better sleep plan?
When creating your sleep schedule, aim to be consistent through the week and the weekend. Of course there will always be exceptions, but the more consistent you can be, the easier it will become routine.