Days are getting shorter, and the dark sky is taking over, our bodies are adjusting to the ever-changing environment around us. The struggle to get out of bed is real and science confirms it. In the Pacific NW we are getting less sun exposure (natural light) which regulates our circadian rhythm – the internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Furthermore, our decision to base our lives under the 24-hour clock cycle might not be the most optimal for our mind and body. One argument is that our bodies evolved in harmony with the rise and fall of the sun (Surya) and moon (Chandra). Our bodies built-in light sensors are designed to alert us when it is time to wake up and time to mellow down. When this natural process is disrupted, we can run into difficulties in the sleep-wake cycle. This could be the culprit of underlying diseases, pain or disorders. So, what can you do about it? Read along for key behavioral changes that have helped me!
Own your mornings
The development of a consistent morning and night routine can support a consistent wake up and sleep time. In the mornings I don’t think about what I need to do, my body knows what I’m up to – hygiene, drink water and breath practice (pranayama). This removes the added stress of thinking how to fill up your morning time and minimizes the tendency of going to work right away. It also supports your body to gradually prepare you for the day ahead.
Go outside and experience nature
Nowadays is common to spend a whole day indoors which does not meet our minimum natural light exposure requirement. Making a conscious decision to take frequent breaks to experience the fresh air outside helps to get a sense of purpose and motivation to continue your day with utmost optimism.
Move, move AND MOVE some more! If I can emphasize it a bit more, MOVE! Movement does marvelous things to our mental, physical and spiritual self. The benefits range from getting more beauty to experiencing less havoc with pain. Our ancestors were hunters & gatherers – which by the way small populations of them still exist today – and they were moving a substantial amount for sustenance. The “modern human” is the most stagnant version in the history of our species and this comes with great consequences. Science has linked the lack of physical movement to several chronic diseases from heart disease, obesity and depression. You don’t need to run or ruin your knees in a marathon (if you are not properly prepared for it) but you can take long walks at your pace and match the pace with mindful breathing. I guarantee your energies will be replenished!
Limit screen time at night
Science has told us over and over that blue light emitted from screens disrupts our sleep-wake cycle. It basically keeps you awake and makes it harder for you to go to sleep. Limit your screen usage after sunset and let the moon guide you through the night during the sleep cycle.
Tips: Buy a digital battery clock to use as an alarm or get a lightbulb that turns on in the morning to wake you up! If possible, keep your phone out of the bedroom. Also, you can substitute screen time at night by reading a paper book – there is so much wisdom in books!
Making these small and gradual behavioral changes can strongly support your immune system and allow you to keep shedding the natural light in you. Like Ziggy Marley says, “People living under 24-hour clocks, but we are on a ride that never stops” Own your health!