Sleep-better-live-better

Do you feel tired when you wake-up and seaking for that coffee before opening your eyes? Your body is exhausted and your mind drained, but you’ve just woken up! You are not the only one!

In reality It should be the other way around. We should be feeling energized after waking up and not be in that killing mood of anyone who gets in the way of our coffee. Maybe we should consider these little clocks inside our called circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms are biological patterns built into our physiology that follow day and night cycles. They trigger our hormones, the metabolism, and even our mood. Circadian rhythms can influence sleep-wake cycles, hormonal release, body temperature, the metabolism, your mood and other important bodily functions.

Sleeping and Hormones

One of the main hormones for sleep is Cortisol. It is the body’s stress hormone that increases adrenaline, boosts wakefulness and stimulates the sympathetic nervous system. It follows the circadian rhythms and fluctuates throughout the day.

  • Cortisol is low throughout the night to allow melatonin production which is the sleep hormone.
  • As morning approaches, cortisol starts rises and melatonin decreases at about 5-7am
  • Cortisol reaches its peak around 8-9am and then lowers back down slightly.
  • Only to have another increase around 1pm.

This is how our physiology works! But if cortisol is rising, why do you still feel tired in the morning? There are 2 reasons for it and they’re both connected.

  • Suffering from a circadian mismatch
  • Bad sleep quality

Circadian Rhythms

Circadian rhythms are biological cycles of physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow the day and night rotations in an organism’s environment. These rythms function around the 24-hour clock and all living creatures have them, including mammals, plants, microbes. Circadian rhythms are driven by our biological clocks throughout the body and coordinated by a “master clock” in the brain. The “Master Clock” consists of the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), which is a group of nerve cells in the brain as is located in the hypothalamus

What triggers the Circadian rhythms are the physiological processes inside us , but most importantly the signals coming from the surrounding environment. The main cue that influences circadian rhythms is light, which turns on or off genes and other metabolic functions.

Tired in the Morning But Not at Night

A messed-up circadian rhythm is linked to various disorders, such as insomnia, obesity, diabetes, depression. Circadian rhythms are very important for not only determining human sleep patterns but influencing overall health.

The biggest contributing factor is melatonin, the sleep hormone. The SCN directly controls the production of melatonin, as it sends information about external light sources straight into the brain. After sunset, when there’s less light, the SCN will tell the brain that it’s time to start producing melatonin so you’d get drowsy for the upcoming night. However our body perceives all light as the same – it can’t tell the difference between light that’s coming from the sun and the one from an artificial light source, from a laptop or lamp.

The magic works during the night

Artificial light puts a stop to melatonin production and makes us more awake. We don’t need melatonin to sleep but the lack of it will severely hinder the quality of our sleep and to our overall health. This is because during the night there are many hormonal and physiological processes taking place. For example

  • Human Growth Hormone (HGH) gets released the first few hours of sleep 11pm–2am. This hormone is crucial for building muscle tissue, burning fat and longevity.
  • Memory consolidation takes place in the deepest stages of sleep, the REM cycle.
  • Staying up past the natural rhythm of melatonin production will cause secretions of cortisol rush so that you stay awake.

The above will impair the brain’s cognitive abilities, with the result being feeling tired in the morning.

Steps to improve sleep

  • Keep a consistent sleep schedule. It is well researched that sleeping patterns are veryimportant. Stick within an hour of your regular bed and wake times for weekdays and weekends alike throught the year.
  • Remove all blue-light light 1-2 hours before going to bed. Wear some blue-light blocking glasses and stay off TV, mobiles etc. Let your body naturally relax.
  • Sleep in complete darkness. Keep your bedroom dark or wear a night mask.
  • Keep the environment cool. Keep the bedroom temperature between 18-20C. This will bring also your heart rate down and make you sleep better and with little movement during the night. Consider investing in a Chillipad.
  • Hydrate. Instead of drinking coffee first thing in the morning, hydrate. Drink plenty of water with some salt and lemon.

There many more things to do, but these should be a good start. Have fun!

Key Takeways

  • Don’t drink coffee first thing in the morning.
  • Respect your sleep and you will see big improvements in every aspect of your life.

Further Reading