Sleep and Your Circadian Rhythm

Jan 05, 2021by Julie - F&F

My wonderful Dad asked me on New Year's Day what my resolution for 2021 was. My answer was very simple... 'Get More Sleep'. In running F&F for 6 years you compromise on a few things, one of the biggest is sleep. I have averaged 5 to 6 hours a night for a long time and things have to change. I believe it's one of the solid foundations for a healthy life and something I need to get better at. I am someone who is very fact-based and there's lots of research showing the benefits of sleep. Taking this one step further we should also think about Circadian Rhythms to really optimise our sleep and other activities.

Why is Sleep Important

  • Can help with productivity
  • Can boost your immune system
  • Can improve your mood
  • A lack of sleep can result in weight gain
  • Sleep can help strengthen your heart
  • Sleep can help your memory
  • We need to rest, recover and regenerate

Circadian Rhythms Explained

Circadian rhythms are the different processes/ changes that happen in our body on a 24-hour cycle, eg digestion, hormone release, body temperature, sleeping. They are powered by our internal body clock. If we disrupt our body clock it disrupts our circadian rhythms and that can impact our health. If we eat late, or don't sleep enough, or have jet lag, our rhythms can get out of whack and that can cause issues. I'm currently battling severe reflux (thanks pregnancies) and when I eat and what I eat are really important. I'm trying to optimise my body's circadian rhythm. 

The Blue Light Effect

We are exposed to so much blue light from our screens and indoor lights. Our brain's circadian clock is connected to the outside world and sunlight so it knows when we should get up and when it's time to go to bed. When the sun goes down our brain releases melatonin to help us sleep. The challenge with blue light is that when we're on screens all day, and at night, our body clock gets confused. This suppresses the production of melatonin and can keep us awake, disrupting our sleep cycle. The way to optimise your circadian rhythm is to limit your exposure to blue light at night and use your screens, and get sunlight, during the day. If you are using screens at night we have Pela blue light glasses to help. Also you can get a blue light lenses on your own prescription glasses. 

Food and your Rhythm

As a general rule we eat for too long, i.e. we start eating early and eat late into the night. Eating for this long disrupts our circadian rhythm and means our body doesn't get enough time to rest. This can affect our sleep and eating late means our body is trying to digest late into the night. Satchin Panda, a Professor at the Center for Circadian Biology, believes time-restricted eating for ten hours of the day gives our body time to rest. So if you start eating at 10am finish by 8pm. That also includes wine!

Top Tips to Optimise Your Circadian Rhythms

  • Try and get 8 hours sleep a night
  • Eat all of your calories from food and drinks within ten hours in a day
  • Don't eat or drink 2 to 3 hours before going to bed
  • Limit your use of blue light at night (ideally stop 2 to 3 hours before going to bed) - tough one we know!

The Circadian Code book is a book you might like for more info.

Note: we are not doctors so this should not be substituted for medical advice. For any medical conditions please see a medical professional. 

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