8 Great Habits to Help Balance Your Circadian Rhythm

Have you ever noticed that you start to get sleepy as soon as the sun goes down? You can thank your circadian rhythm for that—your internal 24-hour clock that runs in the background of your brain and helps you transition between sleepiness and wakefulness with ease.That is…hopefully.

For most adults, dips in energy typically occur in the middle of the night (perfect!) and just after lunchtime, between 1:00 and 3:00 p.m. (feel like you need a nap?). However, if you are sleep deprived or your circadian rhythm has been thrown off by external factors, you could struggle to feel the cues that everyone else does—and suffer the consequences.

Struggling to get back on track? Here are eight tips to help balance your circadian rhythm by halting bad habits that can disrupt it and establishing better ones that will support it.

1. Practice good sleep hygiene.

Sleep hygiene is so important to a healthful life. When you go to bed, make sure the room is cool, dark and quiet. Avoid caffeine or other stimulants after 1:00 p.m. (you can do it!) and turn off all blue light sources like cell phones and TVs at least an hour before bedtime.

2. Eat at the same time daily.

Skipping meals or eating at random times throughout the day confuses the production of cortisol and alters the flow of appetite-suppressing hormones that follow a big meal. Think of meals as hormone triggers. You want them to release at just the right time to stay on schedule!

3. Be social during daytime.

It might be surprising, but the level of human interaction you get during the day actually has a huge effect on how you sleep that night. Getting lots of social activity during daylight hours, then minimizing social interactions after dark helps reduce alertness in the evening. Cool, huh?

4. Avoid eating late at night.

Eating at night raises insulin levels in the body, which affects the hormonal processes responsible for setting you up for a restful night. Instead, eat dinner at least four hours before bed. Your body will then produce melatonin at the correct time, which is very important to maintaining circadian rhythm.

5. Eat a high-protein breakfast.

Starting the day with a high-protein breakfast helps ensure productivity during the day, as well as promotes a restful night’s sleep. At the end of the day, try to eat a little lighter in contrast.

6. Get some exercise.

Working out on a regular basis is one of the best things you can do to keep your circadian rhythm in check. Try strength training or interval-based exercise (often called HIIT) to ensure your hormones stay balanced with each other and watch things fall back into place.

7. Avoid overly restrictive diets.

A restrictive diet can really mess with your circadian rhythm. Too little dietary fat means the body won’t get enough cholesterol to make steroid hormones; too little protein means that those energizing neurotransmitters will be depleted.

8. Get bright light first thing in the morning.

Light serves as your master clock (there’s a reason your circadian rhythm operates on a 24-hour schedule). To help anchor your day in the right place at the right time, get bright light exposure first thing in the morning, right after you get up. You might even try pairing this with a quick workout!

42 comments

Jan S
Jan S1 months ago

tyfs

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Val P
Val P2 months ago

interesting

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Salla T
Salla Tuu2 months ago

Ty

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Salla T
Salla Tuu2 months ago

Ty, need to try. Yawn.

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Marija M
Marija M2 months ago

tks very much

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Kathy K
Kathy K2 months ago

Thanks.

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hELEN h
hELEN hEARFIELD2 months ago

tyfs

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Melanie St Germaine

Winter throws me off. Lack of sunshine and outdoor activities.

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Ben O
Ben O2 months ago

Thanks

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Danuta W
Danuta W2 months ago

Thank you for sharing.

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