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Written By: Emily Spring
If sleep were an orchestra, your circadian rhythm would be the conductor. By syncing itself with environmental cues like daylight, your circadian rhythm signals your body to perform essential functions and processes at the appropriate time, such as preparing your body for rest and releasing hormones that help you sleep.
Just as an orchestra would be lost without the maestro’s baton to guide them, your body is unable to maintain its proper beat nearly as well on its own.
That said, when your circadian rhythm is thrown off, your sleep schedule and physical and mental wellness may falter. In this guide, we’ll explore the circadian rhythm, its relationship to sleep, and why it's integral to your overall health.
What is circadian rhythm and how does it affect sleep? Before we take a deep dive into how your circadian rhythm helps you sleep, it’s important to discuss the important role it plays in the human body.
Circadian rhythm refers to various 24-hour cycles that are scheduled by your body’s internal clock.1 It’s the system by which your body knows when to execute several different functions and processes that affect physical, mental, and behavioral aspects of your biology. In addition to human beings, most living things are on a circadian rhythm, including:
In other words, your circadian rhythm is an internal time-keeping system that helps your body decide the best time of day or night to perform essential bodily functions. Among other important processes, your circadian rhythm is essential for regulating your body’s:2
For many of these processes, timing is everything. Your body is better at performing certain functions at night when you’re asleep and others during the day. What’s your circadian rhythm? It’s the system your body uses to distinguish those times from each other.
One of the most important cycles that are linked to your circadian rhythm is your sleep-wake cycle. This is the schedule on which your body knows when to power down for sleep and when to re-energize when it’s time to wake up. The schedule is determined by your master clock.
Your master clock or biological clock is located in your brain, near the front of the hypothalamus in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN).1 This part of the brain is extremely sensitive to changes in light, which is why circadian rhythms run on 24-hour loops. It’s also why a regular sleep/wake cycle follows a day/night schedule.
Humans are naturally diurnal creatures, meaning we tend to want to be active during the day when the sun is up and sleep at night when it’s dark. This is because your internal clock reads environmental indicators like daylight to instigate processes that are integral to falling asleep and waking up. These processes include:
When it comes to getting a good night’s sleep, melatonin and cortisol regulation is crucial, which means that keeping your circadian rhythm on track so that your body knows when to release melatonin and preserve cortisol, among other functions, is also important.
When your circadian rhythm is following the correct beat, you’re more likely to:1
Tired but can’t sleep at night? For most people, your circadian rhythm is going to get thrown off from time to time. Sudden changes to your lifestyle, diet, or health can impact your sleep and complicate your internal clock.
When your clock is disrupted, you can develop what’s known as a circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorder, or CRSWD.
There are several common types of CRSWDs.1 They include:
Depending on the specific CRSWD and the underlying conditions that cause it, these disorders can last for a few days, a few weeks, a few years, or longer.
Maintaining a proper circadian rhythm isn’t just necessary for good sleep—it’s vital for your overall health. This is because there are certain things your body does better when you’re out cold, like processing the day’s information, storing long-term memories, and engaging in cell regeneration, among other things.
Furthermore, studies have shown a link between proper circadian rhythm and heart health, suggesting that when your internal clock is ticking properly, so is your heart.
To that end, here are five ways you can maintain your circadian rhythm:
That said, if you suffer from long-term circadian rhythm disruption, an associated sleep disorder, or a medical condition, you should consult with your healthcare provider about the best course of treatment for you.
What is your circadian rhythm? Your circadian rhythm is integral to regulating your body’s functions, such as your blood pressure, hormone production, and sleep cycles. A disruption in your internal clock can affect your sleep. As such, it’s critical that you support your circadian rhythm by exercising regularly, limiting light exposure come bedtime, and promote deep sleep with the proper diet.
At Plant People, we believe in the power of nature to unlock your full potential. Our doctor-formulated, plant and mushroom supplements are designed to live your life to the fullest—even if that means spending more time in bed.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, our NightLight Mushroom Cacao Mix is a delicious way to increase your chances of drifting off peacefully and getting a deeper, more restful sleep. Reishi mushrooms bring their powerful calming properties to relax your body and settle your mind, while magnesium helps support neurotransmitters that help you sleep. Explore our sleep supplements ranging from functional mushrooms to CBD/CBN, so you can find the right sleep solution. You can also check out our blog on how to get better deep sleep and uncover easy lifestyle changes you can make for better sleep.
Need more sleep solutions? Take our quiz today and discover how Plant People can help you sleep and live better.
Written by Emily Spring
Emily Spring is the Director of Marketing at Plant People. A longtime proponent of balanced living, she has enjoyed over 8 years driving growth in the lifestyle, health and wellness sectors with deep experience in functional solutions for optimizing anyone's everyday life.
Reviewed by Gabe Kennedy
Co-Founder of Plant People, Gabe Kennedy is an acclaimed chef and entrepreneur. Growing up in a house of healers and herbalists, he is passionate about the power of food as a tool for health, and actualized this passion and belief system into his company, Plant People. Named to Forbes 30 under 30 Gabe has shaped menus and cooked his way around the world with his mission to promote a more communal, green and healthy world.
Gabe is a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and Cornell University School of Hotel Administration. You can learn more about his work at his website.