My schedule is completely wonky these days. It’s not just the fact that out here in the U.S. some of us have “Sprung Forward” one hour for Daylight Savings time — which, to be honest, I do not get at all. Can’t we just stay at the same time year-round, and suck it up? Even farmers don’t feel like it’s needed anymore.
Sorry. I digress.
Like so many of you out there, I work remotely now and that means there really is no set schedule for when I’m on the clock. I’m available pretty much 24 hours a day and it throws off my coveted circadian rhythm like nobody’s business.
You would think as someone who works with a site that supports a healthy, fulfilling Sleep, Dreaming, and Waking life I would know better, but this is different. Finding a balance to keep rested and refreshed in the midst of schedule shifts is fairly new for me. Oh, sure. I’ve found myself revising my sleep time when working on certain projects and so forth. And, yes, this is not the first time in my life I have been at the 24-hour disposal of whoever, whenever. BUT, the circumstances around this rather unique situation are a bit different, and that means that getting back in the groove of being OUT of the groove takes some reworking.
From what I can see, I am not alone in this and thankfully, there are ways to reset that glorious circadian rhythm we all share to enable us to get the rest we need, when we need it.
Signs you need a rhythmic reboot
It probably won’t come as any surprise that your body tells you when you need to adjust your internal clock for a better night’s rest. Whether it’s health reasons, schedule shifts, time changes, becoming a new parent — ah, yes — or whatever, there are little signs that say, “Yo, I need an internal boost,” and if we take care of it, then we can actually rest easier.
- Do you find yourself more awake than ready for sleep when the sun goes down?
- Is getting to sleep harder than it’s been in, well, a long time?
- Can’t remember the last time you were actually outside in the sun because you’ve had other things to do?
- Does that feeling of fogginess plague you all the time?
- Are you sleepy at times of day you never have been before?
There are just a few things telling you that – yep – you need to adjust the circadian rhythm section of your anatomy.
"Great," you say. "Now what?"
Glad you asked.
Five quick tips
How you, specifically, choose to navigate the landscape of returning your circadian rhythm to a good place for your 24-hour mind is up to you. What we have here, however, are general suggestions that are great starting points for pretty much everyone, and you can get creative bringing them to life in whatever way makes sense for you.
One, get outside
We’ve discussed it in the past — our circadian rhythm is tied to the light and the dark of nature. When the sun comes up, we wake up and when it goes down, we sleep. Simple. Natural light helps us and it will get your body back into the swing of things.
Two, turn off your media
Blue light, remember? Not good for that resting mind of yours. Regardless of how your schedule has changed, when it’s time to go to bed, turn it all off and rest your mind.
Three, no naps (please?)
We notoriously stay out of the nap controversy because we really do understand those folks who get power naps and it helps them. It would appear, however, if you’re looking for a way to repay yourself for the sleep you’ve lost, it’s better to fully commit to sleep, not kinda, sorta sleep. Naps can throw off your rhythm – see what we did there? – and as you are trying to get yourself back on track, take a time out from a snooze in the middle of whatever constitutes your day.
Four, relax your mind and body
Meditation isn’t the only key but it certainly helps to calm your mind, release the stress in your body, and allow yourself to just go. Listening to relaxing music, sitting in the sun and absorbing nature around you — this again is where you find what works for you and do it. Sleep comes when our minds relax. Take it easy.
Last and definitely not least, keep your cool
The temperature of your room when you are resting is important. If it’s too hot — as it can be as we get towards summer in the Northern Hemisphere — then it’s difficult for your body to relax, and it also affects that neurological wonder inside your skull. Sleeping in too hot of a room can wreak havoc on your brain function. Cool down whenever possible, and your mind and body will thank you.
Real rest, no matter your bedtime
It may seem unfathomable but you can do these and a few other tricks and tips to get your body back on track. Yes, the circadian rhythm is connected to the natural ebb and flow of night and day and it is better for you to rest within that construct. BUT…
Training yourself to truly embrace rest when you need it also helps. We have this tendency to accept that our schedule is askew, and we simply roll with how it’s affecting our bodies and minds. We deserve better, don’t we? Even if it feels a bit off kilter here and there, take the time to give yourself the time to relax, shut everything off, and go to sleep.
Get a good whenever’s rest, no matter what. Your body and mind will thank you for it.