[caption id="attachment_47" align="alignright" width="300"] Reset your body clock for spring.[/caption]
Birds have them. Bees have them. We have them too. They are our internal clocks, and they can be as synchronized as the finest Swiss watch. They influence when we sleep, when we wake up, and everything we do during the day.
If you’re feeling sluggish, tired, or out of sorts, this article will help you reset your body clock to usher in spring.
What drives our body clock?
Your body’s master clock is located in your brain, and controls a host of hormones, including melatonin.
Melatonin is a hormone that influences your wake and sleep cycle. It’s closely related to the 24 hour cycle of daylight. As darkness falls at the end of the day, your brain triggers you to release melatonin, which makes you feel sleepy. When the sun rises and you’re exposed to light, you start to wake up.
That’s why you often wake up much earlier in spring, while in the dead of winter you just want to burrow deeper into your pillow and blankets and sleep.
Modern life vs the birds and bees
Modern life can be at odds with your circadian rhythm. For most of human history, people went to sleep when it got dark, and woke up when it became light outside. Our bodies harmonized with nature and the seasons.
With electric lighting, we can now work at all hours. In addition, we spend a lot of time reading on tablets and working at computers that give off blue light. Some experts say this can affect melatonin and sleep patterns.
Stress can also disturb our normal sleep-wake cycle, and leave us feeling sluggish, out of sorts, or even depressed.
Are you SAD in winter?
In the winter, many people suffer from SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is considered a mood disorder where people experience depressive symptoms.
Symptoms of SAD include difficulty waking up in the morning, and a tendency to oversleep and over eat.
Other symptoms include a lack of energy, difficulty concentrating on tasks, and withdrawal from friends, family and social activities. This can lead to feelings of pessimism and depression.
7 Ways to reset your body clock
After a great night’s sleep, you feel energized and excited to take on the day.
Here are 7 tips to help you reset your body clock, so you sleep better and feel more invigorated.
1. Get outside into nature. After months of being cooped up in the house, the first rays of sunshine will beacon you to get outdoors. That’s your body’s message that you need to start soaking up Vitamin D. Go for a walk in nature, or just around your neighbourhood. Even a 15 minute stroll at lunchtime can lighten your mood and boost your energy.
2. Tap into your normal body rhythms. Whenever possible, schedule daily activities so they are in synch with your circadian rhythms. Morning light cues your body to slow melatonin. Your temperature rises and your digestion becomes more active. Your concentration, alertness and memory are at their height. This is a good time to do your most challenging or creative work.
3. Do some physical activity in the afternoon. Your coordination, reaction time and muscle strength are all at their peak in the afternoon, making this a good time to go to the gym, or just get out for a walk.
4. Relax in the evening. As daylight fades, melatonin makes us feel sleepy. Instead of fighting the natural urge to sleep by pushing through for a second wind, try to take advantage of it reading, listening to music, or taking a bath, and then going to bed.
5. Try an adaptogen. If you suffer from seasonal affective disorder, try an adaptogen herb such as Rhodiola rosea, which you can find at most health food stores. Rhodiola is a plant that helps us adjust to changes, such as those with the seasons. It helps you build resistance to stress and fatigue.
6. Increase your beneficial fats. Add more healthy fats, such as avocado, and foods rich in Omega 3s. We need these fats for normal brain development and function, and to help our bodies make the hormones serotonin and norepinephrine. They block brain chemicals that can cause sadness or depression-like feelings, helping to influence mood. They also help alleviate symptoms of inflammation from conditions like arthritis and eczema.
7. Eat more leafy greens. Green leafy vegetables are powerhouses of vitamins and minerals They are rich sources of chlorophyll, which provides plants with essential nutrients. In the same way, they restore your health by strengthening your immune system and helping you eliminate metabolic waste.
To revive your spirits for spring, incorporate a range of green veggies such as spinach, parsley, kale, coriander leaves, asparagus, and turnip greens into salads, soups and smoothies.
They will help rehydrate your cells with vital nutrients, and you’ll feel a surge of energy as you improve your health almost instantly.
The more you get in harmony with your body’s natural rhythms, the better you will feel. Now you don’t have to feel guilty for sleeping a little more in winter, and can look forward to revelling in the longer days of spring and summer.