You probably know enough about yourself to know what time you need to go to bed to wake up feeling refreshed and when you’re going to hit the wall at the end of a long day. Maybe you’ve even figured out when to fit exercise into your schedule for maximum impact. But think about how good you could feel if you understood how to use that ebb and flow of energy to get a great night’s sleep. If on occasion you find yourself staring at the ceiling at 3 am, this information could be a game-changer.
Your 24-hour internal clock, or your circadian rhythm, controls your wake/sleep cycle. All plants and animals have one. This rhythm dictates mental, physical, and behavioral changes based on a combination of biological and environmental factors. If you can align life’s demands with your circadian rhythm, you’ll sleep better, which can pay off in a big way.
Restful slumber leads to better immune function to help you fight off illness, sharpen your memory, and improve your learning skills. You’re better able to manage stress, and there are even links between ample sleep, improved metabolism, and weight loss. That’s plenty of reason to harness the power of your circadian rhythm for better sleep. Here’s how it all works and what you can do to sleep more effectively.
The Healing Power of Sleep
We know sleep is essential for good health, and all you have to do is look at what happens to your body systems during rest to understand why. While you’re snoozing, cerebrospinal fluid is pumped more rapidly through your brain, whisking away brain cell waste products. Respiration slows and becomes steadier. Heart rate and blood pressure go down, while your body is releasing growth hormones and increasing blood flow to repair muscles and joints.