A Deep Dive into Circadian Rhythm

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How much sleep would you say you get during the night? Would you even know how lack of sleep affects your day-to-day? Not getting enough sleep doesn't just leave you tired and cranky the whole next day; it's something that clusters and collects and often comes back to punish us, somewhat like karma. 

Stress loves to go around and inflict itself at the most inopportune of moments, which can lead to all sorts of problems – sleeping habits being one of them. So if you've been over-worked and stress is looming over you, good sleep habits often go by the wayside. 

The circadian rhythm in relation to sleep is known as the sleep-wake cycle. It's what we call our internal clock, usually running in the background to carry our essential functions and processes. When we're not sleeping well, this could indicate a problem with our circadian rhythm caused by a sleep disorder. These could be issues such as difficulty falling asleep, waking up during the night mid-sleep cycle, waking up too early, and having problems falling back asleep. Some people even develop chronic insomnia, which will majorly throw circadian rhythm out of whack.

Many health issues can be entirely avoided if you pay attention to your circadian rhythm and regulate it with good sleep hygiene. So how can you help yourself shift into a better circadian rhythm? 

The light/dark cycle of the Sun has a powerful effect on the circadian clock, sleep, and alertness. Bright evening light two hours before bedtime will shift the time for sleep, so you will tend to get sleepy and fall asleep later in the evening and will wake up later in the morning. Ironically, a way to help regulate your circadian rhythm is with light therapy.

How does light therapy work? Light therapy is exactly what it sounds like, a form of therapy that works via light emission. It’s non-invasive and non-pharmaceutical, making it perfect for an easier approach to combat sleep-related issues. 

Light therapy works at the cellular level, increasing the production of ATP and generating a better reproduction of cells. The more energy our cells produce, the better our bodies feel as there’s sufficient blood flow. Next to the superficial benefits, like reducing wrinkles and increasing collagen, you reap many inner benefits as well. By providing our cells with a better structure and stronger material, we also provide our bodies with better conditions for life. 

With respect to how circadian rhythm is improved via light therapy, it actually helps people sleep better by regulating hormones. We all have hormones that regulate our sleep cycle, which are directly affected by light. Cortisol is the hormone that wakes us up. It’s a steroid hormone produced by your adrenal glands; it wakes you and keeps you up. Cortisol levels tend to be highest in the mornings and lowest when we’re in our deepest sleep, typically around 3-4 am. Bright artificial light can stimulate cortisol levels that keep you awake. 

While cortisol wakes us up, melatonin is what puts us to sleep. Melatonin is produced by the pineal gland and helps you fall and stay asleep. Naturally, your body should start producing melatonin in the early evening, when your bodily functions start slowing down, preparing for bedtime.

Bright lights such as blue light from phones and computers have shown to disrupt melatonin production. Light therapy can help balance the light intake during the day, returning your body to a more natural state of function by returning these hormones to their regular planned routine. 

You can use light therapy for the improvement of your circadian rhythm in a few different ways. First, it depends on what suits you better; some people prefer their treatments in the morning, some prefer it at night. Each light therapy treatment can last up to half an hour which is the recommended time limit. During this time, you can relax and sit back, take this time to enjoy not only the fact you’re boosting your overall wellness but giving yourself a break. Of course, you can also undergo treatment while using the computer, or phone.

So how do you start with light therapy? Well, invest in a light therapy device. Kaiyan’s light therapy devices are FDA-approved and MDA-certified, ensuring that you’re getting safe and high-quality treatment. The beauty of our light therapy devices is that they’re perfect for at home treatment – so whether you’re just someone looking to improve their sleep and wellness, or a health practitioner looking for the best treatments for patients (we even private label our devices!), look no further than light therapy.