Balancing The Circadian Rhythms
Stress is inevitable, but staying connected to your body doesn’t have to be. Take a look at this daily schedule to balance your circadian rhythms.
Your circadian rhythm is your body’s natural inborn clock that dictates how you feel and how your body operates…all day long—from sleeping, to waking, to hunger, digestion, energy and more. If stress gets in the way of your body’s natural clock, then chances are you will feel less energetic, more stressed, and/or experience a number of unwanted side effects.
Side Effects of Circadian Dysfunction
Common side effects associated with circadian “dysfunction” include:
- Mood disorders (anxiety, depression)
- Skin breakouts
- Gut dysfunction (IBS, GERD, indigestion, bloating, bacterial overgrowth, leaky gut)
- Allergies & low immune function
- Feeling wired and tired at night
- Coffee and sugar cravings
- Carbohydrate intolerance
- Hypo or hyperglycemia (blood sugar imbalances)
- Iron overload (stress)
- Metabolic dysfunction
- Unwanted weight gain
What to do about it?!
Reset your natural circadian rhythms, in touch with the 24-hour cycle it thrives upon!
The result? Less stress, more energy and feeling amazing (inside and out)!
In fact, many people find when they “reset their internal clock,” many of the health problems they had before start to go away!
Here is a sample daily schedule of how to optimize your circadian rhythms with your eating habits, sleeping habits, work habits and beyond.
Rise & Shine
No, you don’t have to necessarily get up when the sun comes out, but rising around early dawn and sun hours is a natural wakefulness that can start the day off with a bang.
Move & Groove
Get your body and bowels moving and grooving. After a full night’s rest, your body has a little bit of extra umph, given you’re in touch with your circadian rhythms most days. During the night, if you were able to sleep as well, detoxification pathways have set your body up for a successful morning “poo.” Give yourself a little time to do the doo (#2)—drink 16 oz. of warm lemon water with sea salt, and 1 tbsp. of apple cider vinegar in 2-4 oz of water if you need some help downstairs. In addition, stretch, bounce (on a rebounder), go on a short brisk walk, or use the morning hours to wake your body up with some gentle morning movement.
Eat a Stabilizing Breakfast
Set your body into balance for the day with a protein-based breakfast, such as homemade chicken or turkey sausage, wild caught salmon, leftover meat from dinner, or pastured eggs and bacon. Add some healthy fat (like avocado, raw nuts/seeds, MCT oil, ghee, coconut oil) and veggies (especially dark leafy greens) to get your motor running. Protein helps balance out blood sugar levels for the rest of the day to prevent mid-morning and mid-afternoon dips.
The morning hours after breakfast until lunchtime are your time to shine. Use the energy and creativity the body naturally has during this time to do your most creative work, or put your head down to get through the tasks that require more energy, power and thought.
We can only work so hard for so long. Use mid-day for a “recess” break to energize your body in new ways in order to reset and refocus if you need to in the afternoon. Around noon or 1, take a break to move your body (walk, workout, stretch) or get fresh air and a change in scenery. Mid-day is a great time to workout, especially if you didn’t in the morning. Also use this time to “fuel” your body with some mid-day fuel. If we look to our Ayurvedic body clock, it encourages us to eat our primary meal in the middle of the day, when the “fire” of pitta dominates. Pitta supports our ability to digest all things—food, thoughts, and feelings.
The hours of 1-3 are also your “small intestine” hour according to Chinese medicine, so forgo the granola bar or smoothie, and opt for a more complete and balanced meal, such as: greens with plenty of colorful veggies, healthy fats and organic proteins; chicken salad “salad” with avocado mayo, seed crackers and veggies; a coconut flour tortilla or lettuce wrap with turkey or grass-fed meat, guacamole, sauerkraut and a side of veggies; or leftover dinner protein, low glycemic veggies or tubers, and greens cooked in ghee or coconut oil. However: try to avoid TOO heavy or dense of a meal at lunch to preserve optimal energy and brain function for the afternoon hours.
Back to the Grind: With New Gusto
3 pm sugar or coffee cravings ever strike? You’re not alone. Many people hit a slump somewhere between 2-6 p.m. as the adrenals—that sit on top of the kidneys—“go to work” during the “bladder” and “kidney” hours. As cortisol levels fall during this time, your “need” for stimulants (like coffee or cookies) goes up. How to game this?! Protein and healthy fat foods promote more blood sugar stability if a snack attack strikes. For coffee, resist the urge and opt for herbal tea or green tea at the very least. You can also consider titrating off coffee slowly with my coffee trick using amino acids. If you’re in the office, keep your body alert and engaged with a standing desk, yoga ball and/or surrounding yourself with natural light if possible.
You may find too that this time of day is better for e-mail responding and check-list tasks that don’t require as much focus. If you were unable to move or workout in the morning or afternoon, a post-work workout could also be a “pick me up.” After about 6 or 7 p.m., strenuous exercise is not recommended for optimal sleep and circadian balance. As for supplements, AdrenaStim by APEX Energetics is a great topical cream for individuals who get the “slump.” However, if your cortisol seems to be “off” and actually higher at this time, AdrenaCalm (a calming cream) would be more appropriate for you.
Have you ever heard the rule, “don’t eat past 8 pm?” While this is not a hard and fast rule, a look to your natural circadian rhythms does recommend eating a balanced supper 2-3 hours before bedtime so your body can finish digesting your food before sleep, and you’ll be able to transition from being awake to a more restful state. Many people find they feel best leaving their starchier veggies or carb intake to the evening hours as well, such as a sweet potato, squash or cooked and cooled white rice with dinner to further promote sleepy time, and optimize glycogenesis (your liver’s uptake of carbs).
At about 6 in the evening until 10 p.m., we move into a rhythm of more “kapha” energy—dull, slow, stable, heavy (the kind of energy that makes it more difficult to easily wake up after sunrise). This energy now supports our move into sleep. Use this time of the evening to de-stimulate your brain. Shut off screens at least 1, preferably 2-3 hours, before bed. Use lamps and candle light, instead of overhead lights. Drink Bedtime, Calming or Relaxed Mind Tea, like Yogi’s brand. Read. Reflect. Connect with people.
Resist the Second Wind
Come 10 p.m., if we haven’t been winding down, most people report getting a “second wind”—an extra “umph” when the body comes back—more alive. The body uses the four-hour period (from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m.) to digest experiences, emotions, and any remaining food from earlier in the day, and to repair and renew itself. However, if you fought through the drowsiness from your candle down time and stay up too late, you’ll catch that second wind that can keep you up to all hours). The result? Good bye good night’s sleep.
Want help or guidance in getting off your own hamster wheel you’ve been on and resetting your health and body’s clock?
Dr. Lauryn & her clinic staff work with clients worldwide to reinvent the way they look, move, feel and think with our customized nutrition, supplement, lifestyle and health protocols, and health programs.