Your body has an internal clock that regulates most of your biological rhythms. These rhythms include things like your sleep cycle, appetite. These rhythms help you live and regulates human life. Plus, the rhythms affect the length of your telomeres — the caps on your chromosomes that determine how long you live.
Most of us aren’t aware of the fact that our body has an internal clock because it goes unnoticed most of the time. However, changes in external factors such as location and time of day can disrupt its rhythm. For instance, travelling westwards from east coast cities to coastal regions in winter can disrupt your body clock. Our internal circadian clock experiences delayed our exposure to sunlight. Exposure to artificial light at night has a negative impact on our circadian rhythm. As a result, we feel sleepy during nighttime.
What a regular body clock should be like
Your body clock should be a regular rhythm that is easily disrupted by external factors. The easiest way to keep your circadian rhythm in check is to expose yourself to light and darkness at the same time each day. This will help you feel rested and refreshed when you wake up. In turn, regulated sun exposure is important for getting productive throughout your day.
It is also important to make sure you're sleeping enough. People working long hours or are putting in a lot of hours on the weekends may not have enough sleep.
Most people think sleep means 8 to 9 hours with your eyes closed. But, actual sleep is when your brain goes inactive. This is called deep sleep or REM sleep which lasts 4 hours for an adult.
You should also switch off all electronics before bedtime. Work can wait. Even if you want to get promoted quickly and scale that career ladder, your body needs rest. You should pace yourself.
Do things that make you feel tired. Gets your body moving with a quick workout. Or on the opposite end, take a hot bath to relax and help you ease into sleep. E
Finally, you should avoid caffeine and nicotine stimulants if these disrupt your sleep cycle. These two things often keep people awake longer than they need to be and cause fatigue during the day.
Staying awake overnight to reset your body clock
Staying up until midnight will help reset the rhythm of your circadian clock. Keep awake into the wee hours shall further train your body through behavioural conditioning. Further, you can consider doing this schedule on consecutive days.
Back to back days of no-sleep at night will drill a new body response into you. A consistent new behaviour schedule induces a reset of body clock functions. With time, the new behaviour schedule also sets fresh expectations. Your body clock adapts to your night shift.
Changing your body clock to permanent night mode
To fix your body clock, you need to make sure that it is always in night mode. To do this, avoid exposure to bright lights at night and use natural light instead. You can also try wearing a sleep mask when you want to sleep and blocking out any light while you’re sleeping. This will allow your body to adapt to the new schedule.
If you’ve been feeling sleepy during nighttime, there are a few more things you can do to stay awake.
The most common solution is to make a short trip out of your house and go for a walk outside. Take a break from work. Maybe even rethink your career if it requires you to burn the midnight oil. These keep your mind active even while the sky is dark.
Another way that you can reset your body clock is to take naps in the middle of the day. This helps decrease sleepiness during daytime as our sleep hormones increases.
Planning sleep times your body needs while on a night shift
If you’re working a night shift and you know that it can disrupt your body clock, do something to remedy it. You should try to stick as close as possible to your body’s natural sleep cycle. Make small adjustments to keep in-line with regular sleep and wake hours.
Take pre-emptive steps. Plan ahead.
Plan well and early beforehand if your work schedule is unpredictable. Though you may not know when your next day off will be, it is still important to set a specific sleep time. This creates a regular schedule (even if night shifts are already off-schedule). At the very least, your body is ready to take a break and knows a set time that it can expect to rest every day.
Taking melatonin supplements to force sleep and a body reset
Melatonin supplements are a natural way to help you fall asleep and reset your body clock. These supplements contain the hormone, melatonin, which is produced in your pineal gland.
Melatonin reduces the amount of other hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline that are secreted when we wake up in the morning. As a result, we feel more rested than if we had taken it at night.
Additionally, melatonin can help regulate our body rhythm by helping us stay asleep even if you have a disrupted sleep cycle. There are many ways you can use these supplements to fix your body clock fast. If you’re on an airplane for a long time, taking a supplement before sleeping can help build your energy levels. More energy keeps you awake for longer periods of time.
Changing your body clock back to daytime mode
If you feel tired during the daytime and sleepy at night, your body’s circadian clock is in a constant state of confusion. It becomes incredibly frustrating. You have to constantly fight to stay awake during daylight hours or go to bed early at night because your body doesn't seem to know what time it is. So, how can we fix our body clock so that it knows when it’s daytime and nighttime again?
Here are some ways to make the swap between day and night body clocks:
- Get outside in sunlight for 10-30 minutes every day
- Take short breaks from screens 3 times a day
- Have a high protein breakfast.
- This will help jumpstart your metabolism and keep you feeling awake in the morning
- Avoid artificial light at night
- Keep the lights turned down low, if at all
Ways to dump the hangover feeling during a body clock reset
If you’ve been feeling sleepy during the day and haven’t been able to shake it, a quick reset of your body clock can solve the problem.
The key is to have a break from everyday life and expose yourself to sunlight or natural light during your timezone. Go outside, to the park or beach. Spend time doing enjoyable activities that need less sleep. When you rest less, you rid the hangover feeling that comes with the rest of your bio-clock. Try activities such as exercising outdoors, taking long walks in nature, or visiting museums at night.
Another way that can help you feel better after a body clock reset is by eating foods that are rich in tryptophan like liver, eggs, nuts and seeds. These foods are great for boosting serotonin levels in the brain. Higher concentration of serotonin helps you sleep more soundly and wake up feeling refreshed with plenty of energy.
Repay sleep debts with power naps
One of the ways you can deal with your disrupted circadian rhythm is by taking a power nap.
A power nap is a short, refreshing sleep that lasts for just one to four minutes.
Power naps—ideal for people who are commuting or on the go—can help you overcome your sleep debt and keep your body clock from being overworked.
The best time to take a power nap is in the mid-afternoon. Often 3 to 4 p.m. is the period when you’re not too sleepy but still need a little bit of rest. This recharge boosts mood and energy level for the day ahead.
The frequency of individual power naps depends largely on how much sleep debt you have accumulated. A greater lack of sleep will make your body want to take more naps.