What’s fascinating about the human condition is our paradoxical relationship with the planet.
One the one hand, we are not really separate from the planet and our body is aligned with its cycles.
In particular, the planet rotates on its axis to create a 24-hour cycle of day and night. Our body’s natural rhythms, called our circadian rhythms, have originated from these planetary processes.
Yet, on the other hand, these circadian rhythms create an internal circadian clock that operates even without external stimuli.
This means that even though the 24-hour timeframe of our circadian rhythms is a function of the planetary cycles, these rhythms are so engrained that they can function independently. They turn us into a self-sufficient system.
For Better Sleep, the Planet and Your Body Need to Find Alignment
In this article, we offer 3 ways to maximize your circadian rhythms, focusing on easy changes to ensure that you are living in alignment with the planet.
Once you reach optimal alignment, your sleep (and your waking hours) will improve greatly.
Quit Your Job
This history of jobs pales in comparison with the history of the planet, or even the history of the human species. Our jobs are thus only a recent development, and our bodies have not sufficiently adapted to the strains they place on us.
One way of avoiding the unnatural rhythms that stem from our jobs is to quit. That’s right, we said it. Just quit.
We don’t mean stop making money. Instead, be your own boss. Self-employment is the work trend of the future because you can determine your own hours and maximize your body’s natural cycles.
This means no more coffee at 5pm in order to get through the work day as well as no more jolting, alarm-clock wake ups that cut short our slow-wave sleep.
Meditate to Bring Your Mind into Harmony with Your Body
In an ideal world, our minds would always be in harmony with our bodies. Yet, our world is far from ideal. Instead, we often stress about things we can’t control, and over time this puts a strain on our body.
Stress has been proven to disrupt melatonin production due to cortisol production.
Melatonin is a key hormone in regulating our sleep-wake cycles. It is typically secreted in response to darkness and suppressed in response to light, but this can be disturbed if we are disconnected from the underlying wisdom of our bodies due to stress.
Meditation involves controlled breathwork, which can help calm the mind and soothe the body. By doing this, we realign our bodies with the earth’s cycles, allowing for more natural body temperature, blood pressure, and energy regulation.
Eat When It’s Sunny Outside
Melatonin also controls the hormone leptin, which regulates when we are hungry.
At nighttime, melatonin suppresses leptin production in order to prevent us from overeating before bed. This is because sleep is a restorative process that needs all our available energy in order to optimally function.
On the flip side of this, when we eat at night, we disturb our leptin production and cause an imbalanced state of health. This often happens when people eat due to emotional difficulties or occupational stress.
One way to combat this style of eating is to set strict rules about when we can eat. In particular, try only eating when it is light and fasting whenever its dark. This gives our bodies a much larger window of time to recover, allowing our digestion to flow with the cycles of the planet.
This doesn’t mean that you can never eat when its dark ever again, only that you should get the majority of your calories when it’s sunny.
Our Final Thoughts on Circadian Rhythms
Circadian rhythms are one of the greatest luxuries that nature has provided for us. It means that we don’t have to think about every process needed to maintain homeostasis. Instead, we are able to free up much of our energy for more enjoyable behavior, like social interaction and creative artistry.
While our circadian rhythms are informed by the cycles of the earth, they also become endogenously entrained to allow for greater flexibility.
Thus, if we do happen to live an unnatural lifestyle, our body can compensate to ensure balance. This balance will not be as natural or efficient, but we will be alive nonetheless.
We think this represents an incredible adaptation that is unique to the human species. Yet, some people are not fortunate enough to enjoy these benefits. For example, people with circadian rhythm sleep disorder cannot sleep according to their natural circadian rhythms. These people’s sleep patterns are highly irregular and respond solely to their body’s needs, which are out of alignment with the planet’s cycles.
While many underlying sleep disorders are caused by genetic factors, research is also discovering the connection between our environment and the activation of our genes. Thus, even if you’ve inherited an irregular circadian rhythm, you are not totally powerless in mitigating its effects.
Feature image via thinkplantbased