Managing your circadian rhythm is one of the most significant things you can do to regulate your sleep-wake cycle and fall asleep at night. Circadian rhythms are mental, physical, and behavioral changes that occur over a 24-hour period.
Think of your circadian rhythm as an internal biological clock; if you typically wake up at a certain time every day, your body will register that habit and signal your brain to wake you up at that time.
This means that you can actually set your own circadian rhythm by keeping a consistent schedule and forming healthy habits! That being said, there are many different factors that play a role in setting your circadian rhythm.
For instance, the body can naturally make its own circadian rhythm based on external stimuli like sunlight. When the sun rises, the light signals your brain to wake you up. When the sun sets, the darkness signals your brain to begin producing melatonin, the hormone primarily responsible for inducing sleep.
The predominant genes that play a role in regulating your circadian rhythm are the Cryptochrome and Period genes. But how do they regulate your circadian rhythm?
I’m glad you asked! The Cryptochrome and Period genes regulate your circadian rhythm by coding for specific proteins that build up in the cell’s nucleus at night and become scarce during the day. Studies suggest that these proteins signal your brain to make you sleepy.
Because your circadian rhythm is affected by both internal and external stimuli, you can actually self-regulate your circadian rhythm by getting exposure to certain external stimuli at specific times in the day.
In other words, if you want to set your internal biological clock to start waking you up earlier, you should consistently expose yourself to sunlight at an earlier time each day. You can train your brain to wake you up at the same time every day just by consistently exposing yourself to visible light at the time you want to start waking up!
That being said, there might be certain stimuli you expose yourself to throughout the day that affect your circadian rhythm without you even realizing it. For instance, your brain might confuse blue light from electronic devices with daylight.
If you want to fall asleep at night, make sure to turn off those electronics so you can regulate your circadian rhythm in the most effective way possible. Now that you know what a circadian rhythm is and how to regulate yours, let’s discuss the benefits of cultivating and maintaining a consistent routine.