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Find your Rhythm!!

Circadian rhythm is basically a 24-hour internal clock that is running in the background of your brain and cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals. It’s also known as your sleep/wake cycle. It means your body’s natural or biological clock.

What causes this circadian rhythm ?

Cortisol and melatonin are the two hormones most responsible for keeping us awake and putting us to sleep, thus maintaining our circadian rhythm.

Ideally, Cortisol peaks in the morning, waking us up like a cup of coffee, and Melatonin kicks in at night, to wind us down for the day.

But this circadian rhythm is easily disrupted- particularly in the age of artificial light. Lack of exposure to natural light in the morning, compounded by artificial blue light from electronics at night, can really throw things off mark. Maybe you have a new job with different work hours or signed up for a pre-work gym class. To adjust your sleep hours, the biggest tool at your disposal is light (or lack thereof). When it’s dark outside, your brain naturally signals to your body to release melatonin, a hormone that makes you feel sleepy. When it’s light outside, your brain sends a signal to cut off the melatonin supply, making you feel more awake.

Why is this important to behavioral health?

The circadian rhythm impacts every organ in the body, especially the brain. A disrupted sleep cycle is troublesome for ADD, anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder, just to name a few.


Your circadian rhythm responds well to light cues, but other aspects of your daily life can influence it as well.

For instance, the time of day you eat can speed up or delay your internal clock. If you shift your breakfasts, lunches, and dinners to later in the day, this may also move your body’s internal clock back, making a later bedtime feel more natural.

Another variable: Your exercise routine. Hitting the gym in the evening instead of the morning can shift your circadian rhythm later as well.

To shift your circadian rhythm earlier, dim the lights in your home an hour before bedtime to prepare yourself for sleep. As soon as the alarm goes off, turn on as many lights as you can to simulate a bright sunny morning.

Whatever strategy you follow, it’s best to make the changes in small increments. Move your plans 15 minutes earlier or later each day until your find a rhythm that works for you.

Rashmi Mind Clinic is happy to provide this info.

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