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Why You Should Fix Your Inconsistent Sleep Schedule - Facts So Romantic - Nautilus

Our Internal Alarm Clock

Our internal body clocks are better programmed to help us sleep and wake up, according to our unique body chemistry and energy levels.

Ignoring our internal clocks in favor of the alarm clock, and following our social obligations, sacrificing on sleep, is taking its toll on our health.

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Why You Should Fix Your Inconsistent Sleep Schedule - Facts So Romantic - Nautilus

Why You Should Fix Your Inconsistent Sleep Schedule - Facts So Romantic - Nautilus

http://nautil.us/blog/why-you-should-fix-your-inconsistent-sleep-schedule

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Key Ideas

Social Jet Lag

Irregular sleep schedules and broken sleep-wake times are not just an occasional traveling phenomenon, but a wider problem due to our social lives conflicting with our sleep patterns.

Our Internal Alarm Clock

Our internal body clocks are better programmed to help us sleep and wake up, according to our unique body chemistry and energy levels.

Ignoring our internal clocks in favor of the alarm clock, and following our social obligations, sacrificing on sleep, is taking its toll on our health.

Poor Sleep

As our sleep patterns shift, leading to poor or no rest, there are a bunch of diseases that become more likely:

  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Metabolic imbalances and diabetes
  • Heart disease.

Night Shifts

The World Health Organization has listed night-shift work as a cause of cancer in our bodies.

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Jet lag

Jet Lag is a debility similar to a hangover. Jet Lag derives from the simple fact that jets travel so fast they leave your body rhythms behind.

Our biological clocks are synchronized to a 24-...

We take a few days to adjust

Our bodies take a few days to fully adjust, depending on not only how many time zones have been crossed, but also the direction of travel.

Usually, it would take five or six days to adjust to a six-hour shift in time zone. When you travel east, your body has a shorter time to synchronize with the regular 24-hour sun cycle. When you travel west, your body has extra time to adjust.

Speeding up the adjustment

Generally, the best way to fool your biological clock is to shift your internal rhythms before the flight.

  • Restrict light exposure to specific times.
  • Restrict rest and meals.
  • Adjust activities such as walking and running to specific times.
  • Use melatonin - the hormone that makes us sleepy - in small amounts. However, certain people should avoid melatonin.
Your Body is a Clock

Around 30 to 50 percent of people sleep between the hours of 11 pm and 7 am. Another 40 percents are either slightly morning people or slightly evening people.

To understand...

Early Bird or Night Owls

The body is an orchestra of organs, each providing an essential function. In this metaphor, the circadian rhythm is the conductor. The conductor makes every neurotransmitter, every hormone, and every chemical in the body cycle with the daily rhythm.

This makes us our sleep habits unique and tailored.

Sleep Habits

Being a morning (or evening) person is inborn, genetic, and very hard to change.

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How alcohol affects sleep

A lot of the symptoms associated with a hangover are a product of sleep deprivation.

Alcohol affects our ability to get into what is known as rapid eye movement (REM...

Eating before bed

It is important to leave at least a couple of hours between eating and sleeping. 

There is a whole raft of so-called sleepy foods – anything containing tryptophan, serotonin, melatonin, magnesium, calcium, potassium – often eaten in the hope they will aid sleep. 

If you do want to eat these foods, do it because it’s a nice ritual, not because you need it to sleep.

A cure for sleepwalking

There isn’t a cure. 

People who sleepwalk usually are advised to keep their room safe by locking windows and doors, and to maintain what’s called good sleep hygiene: keep to a regular sleep routine, turn mobile phones off, avoid stimulants, and so on. Sleepwalking can often occur as a result of poor or disrupted sleep.

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Disrupted daily routines
Disrupted daily routines

The current pandemic is disrupting daily routines around the world.

  • Overwhelmed hospitals, desolate schools, ghostly towns, and self-isolation look like scenes from a horror movie and...
Sleep in uncertain times

It is exactly during times of social uncertainty and anxiety, when we need sleep the most, that it is most disrupted.
We need sleep for maintaining the immunological function, which is key to preventing and recovering from infectious diseases (like the one created by the new virus).

Sleep problems
  • Anxiety over the future and fear for the health of loved ones increase hyper-arousal and rumination, thus intensifying insomnia.
  • Isolation from regular social rhythms and natural light will mess with our body clock, confusing us about when we are supposed to feel tired and when to perk up.
  • The smartphone age has already led to a substantial deterioration in both duration and quality of sleep.

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Not getting enough sleep
Not getting enough sleep

Now that is an issue most of us face on a daily basis: not getting enough sleep because we are too stressed or paying too much attention to our screens, for different reasons.

The bad news ...

Make believe it is time to go to bed

If you find yourself experiencing issues when trying to fall asleep, you might as well consider making your brain believe that night has come.

In order to do this, you could start using dim table or side lamps instead of bright ones, turning on your phone the so-called 'night mode' or using a mask to cover your face.

The so-called 'sleep debt' and how to fight it

Whenever we fall behind on sleep, most of us have the tendency to try to catch up during weekends. The result is not that good though: it confuses our internal clock and therefore, we tend to feel even more tired afterwards.

So we should actually try waking up and going to bed at the same hours on both weekdays and weekends and building up a regular schedule that suits our needs.

The internal clock
The internal clock

All individuals possess what is called 'an internal clock', which has as main purpose to schedule sleep and wakefulness within one entire day of 24 hours.

Now comes the difference in re...

Get enough sleep in unusual times

Whenever we undergo a change in our daily schedule, our sleep tends to suffer a bit.

Simple facts such as not waking up and going to bed at the usual hour, not getting enough natural light or making less to no exercise can lead to sleep disorders.

Save your sleep

Especially during times of staying only in the house, one needs to make sure that the regular schedule is not too much disturbed, as this can lead, among other issues, to sleep disorders.

A good way to get your normal sleep is by maintaining a regular wake-up and bedtime, even through unusual periods of time. Furthermore, ensuring that your room gets enough natural light, or even better, that you get it, will definitely help. Among other helpful tips there are the fact of giving up on coffee or making as many indoor physical exercises as possible.

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Sleep deprivation
Sleep deprivation

Willpower, memory, judgement, and attention all suffer when you are sleep deprived.

You drop things, crave junk food sugar, overeat, gain weight. You’re more irritable, negative, emotio...

Get through sleep deprivation:
  • Stabilize your blood sugar, by eating hearty food (protein and fat) more often.
  • Reduce refined carbs and increase fats and proteins.
  • B-complex vitamin supplements can give you an immediate boost in alertness and mental clarity.
  • Soak in an Epsom salt bath - might even help you get enough energy to exercise the next day.
  • Drink more water than you usually do to help compensate.
  • Exercise is the single best way to “take out the trash” in your body, and after staying up more hours than you should.
Your body needs dark too
Your body needs dark too

While we are starting to pay attention to how important sleep is, the need for dark is still mostly ignored.

Being exposed to regular patterns of light and dark regulates our circadian ...

Our sleep and wake patterns

On its own, the circadian rhythm takes almost 24 hours. Our bodies rely on the Sun to reset this cycle and keep it at 24 hours, the length of our days. Light and the dark are important signals for the cycle.

During the night, body temperature drops, metabolism slows, and the hormone melatonin rises dramatically. When the Sun comes up in the morning, melatonin has already started falling, and you wake up.

Our bodies in the dark

During the dark, levels of the hormone leptin (hunger control), go up. This means we do not feel hungry while low levels make us hungry.

Ans research found that sleep disruption and turning on lights lowers leptin levels which makes people hungry in the middle of the night.

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The Time You Eat
The Time You Eat

When we think of our diet, our focus is mostly on eating right, cutting down on processed food, and consuming organic produce.

What we normally don’t think about is when the eating activ...

Body Clocks and Cycles

Everything that we check in our bodies like blood pressure and heart rate, has a circadian rhythm.

Our round-the-clock lifestyle, when light, food, and life is available and thriving 24 hours a day, leads to circadian disruption, resulting in many ailments like heart disease and diabetes.

Social Jetlag

Just like normal jetlag, we all experience social jetlag. Weekends and holidays result in partying, staying up, or eating and drinking at odd hours.

One needs to keep up the body schedule in order, waking up in the morning at a regular time, while keeping decreasing stimulation the night before, to provide proper rest to the mind and body.

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Waking Up Late Means Moving Less
Waking Up Late Means Moving Less

Rising early in the day makes an overall difference in the number of steps one walks during the entire day, with the late risers moving around less.

  • Each of us has a...
Our Chronotype

Our various biochemical signals, daily lifestyle, and genetic inclinations develop a specific chronotype in us, that is basically our overall biological response to the outside world.

These chronotypes are categorized as: Morning, Day or Night. The person with a morning chronotype will wake up early in the morning and start to feel hungry sooner than the person with a Day or Night chronotype.

The Body Rhythm

The chronotypes we form are not permanent in most cases but have a rhythm of their own, spawning years, and shifting from Morning to Day and eventually, Night, based on our age.

People with chronotypes that are more towards the evening are more prone to various metabolic disorders and are likely to develop obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

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