Many of us have trouble falling asleep, feel sleepy when we wake up, and often just aren’t able to sleep when our bodies’ want us to. By resetting your circadian rhythm and following a natural sleep schedule that aligns with your internal body clock, you’ll get better, more efficient sleep and in turn improve your overall health and well being.
Your circadian rhythm is a 24-hour internal clock which regulates many cycles your body goes through on a daily basis, most significantly when you fall asleep and wake up. It is controlled by a part of your brain called the hypothalamus, which responds to light in the morning and tells your body to begin producing melatonin (that makes you feel tired) as it gets dark in the evening.
Circadian rhythms may vary from person to person, and they also change and evolve with age. Babies, children, teenagers, adults and elderly people all have different times that their bodies want to eat, sleep, get up, etc.
According to the National Institute of Health, “circadian rhythm disorders are problems that occur when your sleep-wake cycle is not properly aligned with your environment and interferes with your daily activities.”
Sleep-wake cycle disorders can be attributed to any number of factors, including jet lag after crossing time zones, shift work or other occupations with frequently changing hours, specific medical conditions, something as simple as going out late at night and sleeping in in the mornings on weekends, or even Daylight Saving Time.
There’s a very easy fix to resetting your circadian rhythm, or more accurately, discovering what your natural circadian rhythm actually is. The hard part is finding the time to do it:
1. Start by getting up in the morning at a time that seems normal for you.
2. Go to bed that night when you begin to feel tired.
3. The next day, do not use an alarm, just sleep until you wake up naturally.
Repeat this process for several days, and soon enough you’ll develop a consistent sleep pattern and discover exactly when your body wants to be sleeping. At this point, your sleep schedule will now fall in line with your circadian rhythm.
Learn More: How Light Sleepers Can Get More Sleep
Once you’ve found your ideal sleep-wake routine you’ll want to do your best to maintain it. At WHOOP, we refer to this as sleep consistency–going to bed and waking up at similar times each day. Our data shows that better sleep consistency leads to more REM and deep sleep (the restorative stages of sleep), increases sleep efficiency, and even improves long-term mental health.
Here are 10 tips to help fix your sleep schedule and maintain your circadian rhythm:
Learn More: 28 Techniques to Fall Asleep Fast
WHOOP accurately tracks your sleep in detail, including duration of each stage of sleep as well as the time you spend awake in bed not sleeping. The Sleep Coach feature calculates how much sleep you need each night (based on previous sleep and strain your body takes on) and monitors your circadian rhythm in order to make daily recommendations for your ideal bed and wake times.
Additionally, WHOOP provides you with Weekly Performance Assessments that illustrate your sleep consistency and offer actionable insights to follow a healthy sleep schedule in accordance with your circadian rhythm.
Learn More: 12 Sleep Myths Debunked and One That May Be True