Did you know that the way we live today is actually quite unnatural?
The natural human sleep-wake cycle has been disrupted by modern-day lifestyles and environments.
We now have less movement throughout the day, and we are able to eat tons of processed foods that are devoid of nutrients.
It’s no wonder that obesity and other chronic diseases are on the rise!
In this article, we will discuss how to get back to the natural rhythm of human life and how to improve our health in the process… And give you a challenge for it!
This article is for anyone who’s feeling off in one way or another, and is ready to create meaningful changes in their lives.
So, are you ready for a challenge?
The Circadian Rhythm
The circadian rhythm is the natural sleep-wake cycle that humans have evolved with.
It is regulated by the body’s internal clock, which is known as the circadian clock.
The circadian clock is responsible for controlling the release of hormones and other biological processes throughout the day.
This biochemical mechanism allows the body to fine-tune the biology and behaviors of an organism (in this case, the human body.)
Without a doubt, being in tune with this rhythm is essential when it comes to optimizing health and wellbeing on both the mental and physical level.
What Affects Our Circadian Rhythms?
There are a number of external factors that can interfere with the circadian rhythm.
All of these factors work together to create an intricate web of stimuli that affects our circadian rhythm, either in a positive or negative manner.
It’s important to be aware of these factors and how they can impact our health and wellbeing.
So let’s reverse-engineer this, talk about the underlying factors and find the way to getting back to the natural human patterns!
Natural Light Exposure
As you just learned, the circadian rhythm is a cycle that we have evolved with.
It’s what tells our body when to sleep and when to be awake.
The circadian clock regulates it and is in charge of telling the body what time it is, which helps control many things like our hormones and other biological processes throughout the day.
Now, one of the primary considerations is that perhaps the most important factor that affects the circadian rhythm is exposure to light.
Light exposure is a key regulator of circadian rhythm.
Exposure to light during the day helps to keep us on track, while exposure to light at night can disrupt our circadian rhythm.
To make it simple – If you get your daily dose of sunlight, you will feel more awake, aware, and feel it easier to be more physically active.
And oppositely, if you don’t get enough exposure to sunlight, you might feel more lethargic, less focused and hardly moving your ass from the couch.
Artificial Light Exposure
Now, natural light can help you synchronize your circadian rhythm, but artificial, unnatural light can do the exact opposite – Disrupt that same rhythm!
When we are exposed to artificial light, it can throw off our internal clock and cause us to have problems sleeping, and disrupt the production of important hormones.
If you look at it on the grandscale of things, from an evolutionary timeframe, 24/7 light has only been available for a fraction of our existence.
And considering the fact we have evolved with the day-night cycle for the most part, artificial lights do more harm than good.
Bright office lights of unnatural colors, big screens and phone screens, all of those delay your circadian rhythm, leading to disrupted sleep patterns and worse, overall health.
When we perceive a certain danger in the environment, the body responds with a release of the so-called ‘stress hormones,’ such as cortisol and adrenaline.
These hormones help the body mobilize energy, ramp up your heart rate and blood pressure, so that you can ultimately run away or fight whatever danger you’ve encountered.
Back in time, this so-called ‘stress response’ was quite temporary and lasted for as long as it took us to evade the danger.
Nowadays however, stress has become chronic and it is rarely triggered by actual danger of death by predation.
The problem with this is that stress hormones are without a doubt the strongest disruptors of biochemistry.
Cortisol buffers the body’s immune system, growth and recovery.
And that’s no wonder, because after all, in stress, you live in survival, where nothing else matters, but to survive!
Now, as we discussed, the circadian rhythm regulates your wake-sleep cycle, meaning that your sleep patterns are also affected by it.
However, the opposite is also valid – Your sleep patterns regulate your circadian rhythm!
One of the biggest disruptions to the human circadian rhythm, is the night shift!
Being wide awake and active at night isn’t evolutionary appropriate, and that’s why it can make us feel rather suboptimally productive.
But think of it this way – The human body is perfectly tuned for the day-night cycle of the Earth.
What this means is that a regular sleep routine, that allows you to rise with the sun, will help you massively optimize your biochemistry!
Okay, so you just learned that light exposure, stress levels and sleep patterns are the 3 primary factors that affect your circadian rhythms, and in turn your biochemistry, health and fitness.
So with that in mind, it’s time to get to the actionable part of this e-book – The challenge itself!
Below, you will find our 4 challenges for you, which mainly relate to your habitual life.
Wake Up Early
The first and most important thing to take care of in the context of fine-tuning your body to its natural rhythms, is your sleep cycle!
We’re overloaded with information, things to do and things to think about, 24/7, which can disrupt our ability to fall into deep sleep.
A bad night’s sleep, paired with waking up late, will simply disrupt your natural rhythms.
So your first checkpoint, is to start rising with the sun, and exposing yourself to sun light!
At first it may feel weird, because you’re drastically changing your schedule, but trust us when we tell you that with time, you will feel a significant difference.
Establish A Bedtime Routine
Waking up early is tough for many people – That’s a given.
But one of the best ways to make a habit out of it, is to establish a bedtime routine.
This can include yoga, stretching, relaxing music, or any other activities that put your mind at ease.
The most important thing with this routine, is to take your thoughts away from the loads of information widely available during the day.
Remember – Bedtime is a time for rest and recovery, not a time to work and process information.
Dive into the relaxation and let yourself fall deeply asleep, for sleep is the deepest form of recovery.
Watch Your Thoughts
Speaking of intrusive thoughts close to bedtime, the third challenge we have for you is to watch your thought process!
As we mentioned early on, stress is one of the biggest disruptors of our natural rhythms.
However, one of the most common reasons for stress nowadays, is the thoughts and emotional reactions we have in response to certain, not-so-important factors.
So with this third part of our challenge, we invite you to simply watch your thoughts and stay aware of … Your awareness!
Remember that 95% of the thoughts and actions we have and take on every single day, are driven by a pattern.
So really, they are not a product of your free will, and are oftentimes, self-sabotaging behaviors.
In your daily life, stay aware of your thoughts and reactions to certain events (i.e your boss yelling at you.)
When you spot a negative, stress-inducing thought that leads to a behavior, choose not to identify yourself with it, and make a choice different than that, coded in your reaction pattern.
Sleep is not a luxury, but rather a vital necessity for our health and well-being.
As you learned, in order to fine-tune your natural rhythm, you need to have enough time of rest during the night so that you can function properly during daytime.
But insomnia and other sleep-related disorders are on the rise, so what do you do to improve sleep quality?
The simplest thing you could do would be limit your screentime because when you’re using screens (TV, computer) at night time they emit blue light which changes your circadian rhythms as well as suppressing melatonin production – this leads to difficulty falling and staying asleep.
But you already learned this early on in the e-book, so here’s for the actionable advice – Make it a habit to go to sleep WITHOUT your phone or laptop in the bedroom.
Make it just about you and the darkness, because darkness is what signals the body that it’s time to fall (and stay) asleep!
And vice versa, in the morning, when sunlight goes through your eyelids, that is a signal for the body that it’s time to wake up
The natural rhythm of human life is something that has been lost in the modern world.
Between work, stress, and technology, we have become out of tune with our own bodies.
However, there are ways to get back in touch with the natural rhythm of life and find a sense of peace and balance.
This can be done through exercise, outdoor activities, sun exposure, bedtime routines and most of all – Self awareness!
Taking time for yourself each day to connect with your true self can help you find the peace and grounding you need to live a healthy, happy life.