It is 9.30 pm…… you’ve finally “woken up” and you are firing on all cylinders, BUT, you have an early morning meeting with a prospective client. You want to be at your best. You NEED to SLEEP.
You have two options……….
- Stop now and climb into bed, toss and turn for “forever”, until you fall asleep, in the wee hours of the morning.
- Just keep going until you can’t. Hopefully when you fall into bed, in the wee hours of the morning, you will pass out and get some sleep. Hopefully…..
Either way…………….. you’re not going to get the prescribed EIGHT HOURS.
In search of eight hours
Your sleep deprivation is not by design – you want to. You just can’t. Eish !
Your body’s clock is ticking to its own rhythm. Chronotypically speaking, you’re a night owl – sleepy during the day and fired up at night.
Researchers from CU-Boulder sort out busy go getters, with the view to monitor their normal “day” & “night” rhythms. Eight volunteers strapped on wrist monitors which recorded the light intensity they were exposed to and their activity levels, as they went about their normal day in the “city”. Light levels and activity were tracked for a week.
At the end of the week, blood samples were taken, so that the levels of melatonin could be assessed. Melatonin is your night valet – it prepares you for bed and attends to you throughout the night.
The researchers used the melatonin levels to determine whether the bodies standing before them, were biologically awake or asleep. Bet you know the feeling of being the walking dead, your eyes are open but your brain is not fully engaged.
Without exception – all the volunteers were ticking to their own rhythm. Some were night owls, some were larks – none of them were in synch with the sun.
Biological “night” was delayed by 2 hours or so in most of the volunteers, so their night valet, melatonin was missing in action. On the flip side, “nights” ended sooner than the body chemistry dictated. Alarm clock interruptions ?
A visit to the country
The researchers then gathered the go getters and sent them camping for a week.
REAL camping…………..they had to ROUGH IT.
- NO ELECTRICITY
- NO TORCHES
- NO ELECTRONICS
As I said……………… ROUGHING IT.
But the scenery was fabulous, the camping destination was in the mountains of Colorado (Eagles Nest Wilderness), so it was not rough on the eyes.
And the weeklong “experience”…………
Fixed the clocks
All of the participants, both larks and night owls, were ticking in rhythm with the sun.
“Biological” night began shortly after sunset and ended at sunrise. And…………… the participants slept like logs.
Rx a camping trip
Maybe doctors should prescribe camping trips instead of sleeping pills ? Wonder if the medical aid will pay ? I am guessing not.
When the research team shed light on the lighting conditions in the wilderness, they observed
- Light exposure during the day was four times higher in the country versus the city
- Light exposure at night was minimal in the country
It seems, electrical lighting is slowing down our internal biological clocks, how much……… it depends on your genetic makeup.
Night owls take a bow
Left to their own devices – you genes run on whatever time suits them.
- Evening chronotypes – night owls prefer late night living
- Morning chronotypes – larks prefer to get everything done early
But…………… sunlight is able to “nudge” these internal clocks to conform and march in time.
Time marches on
Camping trips in the wilderness, sanctioned by your doctor and paid for by your medical aid……………………something that isn’t going to happen in OUR time.
But you can camp at home.
No………… you don’t have to sleep in a tent in the backyard, but you do need to practise a little SUN WORSHIP and simulate power outages.
Sun worship and black outs
Aim to get a hefty dose of sunlight early in the morning.
- Start by opening the curtains, preferably before 9 am
- Work by the window
- Turn on the lights in poorly lit rooms
And then turn off the lights, the mobile device, the TV, the computer once the sun has set. Okay, okay…………. doing it at sun set could leave you with a very LONG NIGHT. Going to bed early is BORING.
Pull the plug on the electricity an hour or two before you’re planning to go to bed.
|Bad Night’s Sleep? Blame it on the moon
|Street lights drive the birds crazy
|A sleepless night stirs up insulin resistance in the healthy
Longing for a good night’s sleep ?
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