Back in college, I was a #teamnosleep kind of person when it came to any and everything I participated in. I wanted to go to class during the day, pursue my hobbies in the evenings, and go on late night motorcycle rides with my friends at night. Just to wake up the next day and do it again. Needless to say, my circadian rhythm was not balanced after so many weeks of getting only 4 to 5 hours of sleep a night and going to bed at wildly different times.
Nora Tobin, performance enhancement and executive coach, nutrition specialist and CEO of Nora’s Naturals coffee, discusses how balancing your circadian rhythm can help maximize the benefits that sleep can bring in the form of enhanced energy levels throughout the day.
“Your circadian rhythm is a natural 24 hour cycle of your daily cycles such as sleep & wakefulness, hunger and digestion, hormonal activity and other body functions. There are a number of ways an individual’s circadian clock can fall out of balance such as travel across different time zones, or changing jobs. Thankfully, there are different known strategies to set your circadian clock back onto a healthy schedule. One obvious tip is to wake up everyday at the same time to create a new and stable rhythm. Other options involve using melatonin supplements to assist in falling asleep at your desired time, or using caffeine as a temporary energy booster to push through that lull in the day where you seem to always feel drowsy,” says Nora Tobin.
For me personally, once I dedicated myself to being at least in bed by 10pm Monday through Friday, I saw a great improvement in my digestion, my overall mood and actually felt rejuvenated during the day!
Nora goes on to elaborate that, “Maximizing the benefits of sleep can lead to many health benefits. One of these benefits is an increase in one’s energy levels throughout the day. During the last stage of REM, the body undergoes processes to renew and repair itself. While the body renews and repairs itself, this last stage in REM also plays the greatest role in enhancing the body’s ability to produce ATP, which is the body’s energy molecule. Therefore, committing to a solid sleep routine will help you feel fresh and full of energy for each day.”
Here are Nora Tobin’s Top Strategies to Improve Deep Sleep and Reset Circadian Rhythm:
How it Works:
During sleep, cerebral spinal fluid runs through the brain to clear toxins and create new neural connections crucial for retaining information and slowing down aging. This process is called glymphatic drainage. The glymphatic system primarily works during sleep, so in order to successfully create new cerebral pathways and clear waste products, it is essential to get at least 6 hours of sleep.
Why it Works:
Legs up the wall, temperature changes and minerals help the body shift into a parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) and out of flight or fight mode.
- Legs up the Wall: Lying for 5-10 minutes with legs up the wall will reset circadian rhythm and improve the body's ability to drop into deep REM sleep (reparative/clears brain plaque). Simply lie with legs resting on the wall with feet above hips taking deep breaths.
- Change Temperatures: Alternating between hot water and cold in the shower (20 seconds hot, 10 cold) for two minutes before bed will greatly improve the body's natural ability to regulate its own production of melatonin.
- Increase Minerals: Magnesium is easily depleted in a state of prolonged heightened stress. This mineral is a precursor to the neurotransmitter Gaba, which aids in the repair process during sleep. Gaba turns on Theta brain waves, facilitating deep levels of relaxation, healing and rejuvenation. In order to up the levels of magnesium before bed, try Calm. It also comes in travel-size packets.
Nora’s Naturals Sleep Tonic Recipe
- 1 cup hot water
- Half lemon squeezed
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1-2 tsp raw honey
Adaptogenic herbs have been utilized for thousands of years in South America and India. These types of roots and herbs from the earth help the body adapt to stress, while supporting its natural hormone balance.
One herb that can play a significant role in sleep patterns is ashwagandha. The Indian Journal of Physiological Medicine reports that participants who took ashwagandha for 60 days lowered their cortisol (stress hormone) by 30%. You can take it in the morning with coffee, as well as in the evening with tea. Since it is not a stimulant, there is no downside as to when it is consumed. The herb works throughout the day or night to support adrenals and balance blood sugar.
Another great option is reishi – a herb found in mushrooms. In addition to the positive sleep effects, reishi can help detoxify the body. A study from Food and Chemical Toxicology used the power of the reishi mushroom to reverse chemical-driven liver damage in mice.