Spring Forward

It’s that time of year. Unless you live in Arizona or Hawaii you moved your clock forward an hour on Sunday. While it helps us utilize more daylight time, it can also result in an adjustment to our internal clock, also known as circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythm refers to the 24 hour cycle in which our brain regulates between being alert and sleepy. When we experience a shift like a time change, we may need to be intentional about bringing our circadian rhythm back into balance.

When our circadian rhythm becomes dysregulated it can negatively affect immune function, mood, and metabolism. Even our gut bacteria is impacted when our circadian rhythm is out of balance. Research indicates as little as two nights of suboptimal sleep, can negatively impact our gut bacteria. The relationship between gut bacteria and circadian rhythm goes both ways – suboptimal gut bacteria can also affect circadian rhythm.

If you find yourself out of rhythm, there are things you can do to help reset.

 

Sleep Hygiene

  • Limit screens 1-2 hours before bed. The blue light emitted from screens can hinder melatonin production 
  • Establish a consistent bedtime routine (e.g, wash your face, brush your teeth, read, practice deep breathing, prayer, etc.) this routine will signal to your body it is time to start winding down and preparing for sleep
  • Consistent bedtime and rising times support a balanced circadian rhythm
  • Keep your bedroom dark and cool for sleeping

 

Eating Habits

  • Eat nutrient dense foods, including plant based nutrients and fiber, which also feed our gut bacteria  
  • Avoid processed foods which can disrupt both gut bacteria and circadian rhythm 
  • Maintain regular eating times, avoiding snacking and grazing throughout the day
  • Take a break from alcohol – while it may help you fall asleep quicker, it often reduces sleep quality and duration

 

Additional Considerations to Reset Circadian Rhythm

  • Exposure to natural light first thing in the morning – never look directly at the sun but allow the light to reach your eyes (i.e., avoid sunglasses at this time of day)
  • Exercise during the day- avoid vigorous exercise one hour before bed
  • Spend time in nature
  • Take breaks during the day – 5-10 minutes of deep breathing, and/or quieting your mind
  • Avoid naps during the day while resetting