The gift of circadian rhythms

One thing I love about June is roses in bloom, and the other thing I love is the longer evenings.

I have been in Malmö, Sweden this week, and I saw these beautiful yellow roses outside this apartment building.

Malmö is quite a bit further north than London so the days are much longer. The last few evenings I sat with my friend on her balcony, enjoying wine and good food as the sun went down.

Once it was dark, we both found we naturally wanted to turn in for sleep.

Instead of pushing ourselves to stay up later, we just caved in!

Get to know your circadian rhythms

Sunlight and sunset help our health and well-being in fundamental ways.

They help our circadian rhythms to work, and they affect everything.

This is an excellent article I found on Medium about the science of circadian rhythms.

The circadian rhythm is a 24-hour cycle that humans follow each day. It helps us regulate all of our bodily functions. This is one reason sleep is so important.

Screen-time has crept up on us

I remember when the only way to get onto the internet was on a computer.

I also remember you had to dial in. You couldn’t be on the phone and on the internet at the same time.

We used to have one computer at home and I had to share it with my husband. Now, we have a desktop and three laptop computers between us.

Blue light vs. melatonin

Blue light from screens seriously affects our circadian rhythms.

Our pineal gland (in our forehead) is confused when it picks up blue light in the evening.

Instead of dim light and darkness triggering our melatonin production (which triggers sleep), it continues to stimulate cortisol production instead.

This is one reason that so many people you know are permanently tired. [Related post: how to stop feeling exhausted]

When your circadian rhythms are messed up you don’t sleep well. (Either that or you just keep going to bed late, which leads to less sleep…)

Poor sleep affects every single one of your body functions including mood, concentration, energy and hormone production.

We should all pay attention to this.

Every day needs a sunset

A year or so ago, my daughter’s boyfriend told me about fl.ux and I’ve been using it ever since.

There is rarely a week goes by without me telling someone about it.

Fl.ux is an app that you can install on your computer or tablet. It acts like a sunset on your screen, by taking blue light out of it.

This is such a valuable tool and we should all be using it.

Not to mention keeping screens out of the bedroom.

Sleep really isn’t optional.

How did we allow ourselves to get so out of touch with our body-clocks, and what can we do about it?

Books that explain circadian rhythms

The best two books I’ve read on this topic are:

Sleep by Nick Littlehales

Thrive by Ariana Huffington

They’re full of practical tips on how to get the best sleep you can.

Expert recommendations

  • Download  fl.ux to block blue light on all your devices
  • Download Freedom and set up a recurring blocklist for online distractions
  • Use subdued lighting and candles in the evening so your body knows it’s night time
  • Remove screens and devices from the bedroom
  • Use an alarm clock instead of your phone
  • Go to bed 8 hours before you need to wake up
  • Make your bedroom dark and wear an eye mask too
  • Have a regular wake up time that you stick to every day

Insomnia: a case study

A woman came to see me with a list of things she needed help with:

  • anxiety
  • painful periods
  • insomnia

She was recommended to come and see me by her psychotherapist who thought I would be able to help her sleep.

Together we looked at her sleeping patterns and set up new routines for her to aim for.

Changing habits takes some time, which I understand from personal experience, so there was no judgment just friendly encouragement.

I prescribed homeopathic remedies to help her anxiety attacks, and calming homeobotanicals to balance her hormones and nervous system.

Over the course of a few months, she was able to reduce her reliance on painkillers and the recreational drugs she used to help her sleep.

As her mental health and overall well-being improved she decided to speak to her GP about coming off anti-depressants, which I am happy to say she was able to do.

Her sleep was one of the first things to improve after she started her homeopathy treatment.

Understanding and working with her circadian rhythm was a fundamental part of that.

‘Tracy has helped me hugely with my anxiety and insomnia and my kids with their immunity. She has a wonderful way of putting you at ease and I leave each session not only learning something new but feeling calm and cleansed.’

If there is anything here that you feel you could use help with, please feel free to get in touch.

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