The specific timing of these dips in energy will vary, depending on whether you’re a night owl or early bird, and lifestyle factors like working night shifts, or having young children.
When you’re fully rested you likely won’t notice the rises and falls in your circadian rhythm nearly as much. If, however, you’re sleep deprived you’ll really feel the swings between alertness and sleepiness.
Your circadian rhythm is controlled by your hypothalamus, but it is also influenced by external factors in your environment such as the levels of light and darkness. When darkness falls in the evening your eyes signal your hypothalamus that it’s almost time to sleep, and your brain releases melatonin, a hormone that prepares your body for sleep and makes you feel tired.
That’s why you tend to naturally feel tired at night, and energetic during the day; it’s all your circadian rhythm.
What Disrupts Your Circadian Rhythm?
Certain things can throw that healthy rhythm out and leave you feeling tired during the day and wide awake at night. Disruptions to your routine (like suddenly being stuck in self-isolation or lockdown for weeks on end) can wreak havoc on your circadian health.
Stress, anxiety, and other life concerns can easily keep us up at night (as can hobbies, sports events, TV shows, and all-nighters for work or fun). When you start sleeping irregularly it disrupts your circadian rhythm and makes it harder for you to get a decent night’s sleep.
The specific beat of your sleep rhythm naturally changes as you age, and what constitutes circadian health when you’re a child or teenager is vastly different to what we consider sleep hygiene as an adult, and different again to what our bodies need when we’re entering our golden years.
The more attention you pay to your body and the times you feel drowsy or alert, and the more effort you put into creating healthy sleep hygiene habits, the easier you’ll be able to sleep, and the better you’ll feel when you wake.
The Rise Of The Sleep Obsession…
As circadian biologist, Satchin Panda, from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, has said: “Everything cannot happen at once.” Where sleep hygiene is concerned this couldn’t be more true. We cannot be both awake and asleep at the same time! It’s a common theme, as we aren’t capable of sleeping and simultaneously digesting a heavy meal either. This is one reason why eating a big meal right before bed is so bad for you!
Your body needs to rest, repair itself, and ensure everything is in peak working order. To do this, it works to a schedule – much as we need to do in our working lives, or when caring for children. If you don’t have a schedule, everything goes off the rails; important things are left undone, what is done isn’t done as well as it could or should have been, and everything seems to take a lot longer than it would if you just got yourself organised!