I am so effing tired. A popular phrase that has crossed everyone’s lips at one stage or another. For some, they have this whole sleep thing down pat. They hit the pillow and then it’s lights out until morning. 8 hours plus, plus – unicorns. For the rest of us, it can be an uphill battle when nightfall rolls around.
As a collective, we tend to live in this bedtime paradox. We all know that we shouldn’t be on our phones pre-slumber but we just can’t seem to avert our eyes. However, is it worth looking like a gremlin come sunrise? We deserve to catch those winks and we’re not just talking about the ones from XY chromosomes.
So, why is my phone keeping me up at night?
So glad you asked. Allow us to introduce to you, your circadian rhythm.
The circadian rhythm is controlled via the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) which is located in a part of the brain called the hypothalamus and receives direct input through the eyes. Your circadian rhythm is a 24-hour internal body clock that is affected on the daily and is sparked by the use of light – sunrise to sunset. It influences our digestion, body temperature, hormone release, eating habits, and of course, body clock. Our brain’s circadian clock releases melatonin in the evening which conveys to us that it is time to retire. As the sun rises, melatonin decreases and prompts us to sing ‘carpe diem’ from the rooftops.
Nowadays, we have the added bonus of the blue-light, technically we were not designed to see the amount of blue-light that we are now deeply obsessed with cue the iPhone and its moreish sidekick, the gram. The blue- light suppresses the production of melatonin which disrupts our sleep cycle when viewed of an evening by keeping us awake. This leads to poor-quality sleep patterning which impacts every other facet of our being. Rinse and repeat.
How do I get my circadian rhythm to swipe right instead of left?
- We don’t know if you have cottoned on but she hates you being on your phone, especially before bed. As hard as it is, try switching off all electronics half an hour before bed, this will induce a deeper slumber and the ability to reach REM (rapid-eye-movement) sleep. Electronic screens act as a stimulant by mirroring the effects of natural light, making it harder to mentally switch off long after the phone has. The gram can wait folks.
- Move that rig first thing in the morning, this will trigger the release of serotonin (our happy hormone) and rid excess adrenaline. Serotonin plays a critical role in the modulation of controlling the sleep-wake cycle. Exercise under those rays and we’ll love you that much more, as exposure to sunlight will signal to the body that it is time to be up and at em’. Physical activity of an evening sparks your cortisol levels, this is also known as our stress hormone, which induces brain functioning, making it harder to calm down and prepare for dreamland. In other words, it would be easier to pin down a rabbit on speed.
- It is a hard NO to caffeine after 3 pm. This is non-negotiable. The caffeine will work against you, disrupt your body clock and prompt a restless night ahead.
- Snooze the Booze. We know that you are so deserving of that glass of red, so hear us out first. You may think this perfect potion acts as a sedation by knocking you out but it actually provides you with fewer Z’s. A swig of alcohol will affect your REM sleep, we mentioned this puppy earlier. REM occurs 90 minutes after you hit the hay. This is when those dreams of Europe start to kick in. Your limbs are temporarily paralysed, in case you act on your dreams. To be honest, plane ticket ready. We want you living your best life so to compromise, this rule can be applied Monday-Thursday as our weekend commences promptly at 5 pm on Friday. You can thank us later.
- Reduce your liquid intake at least 2 hours before bed. Sauntering out of bed when the clock strikes midnight just to go to the loo is inhibiting that much-needed beauty sleep. Not to mention during the deep sleep phase of your sleep cycle. Cinderella is the exception to this rule. Bitch.