Our circadian rhythm is a 24-hour internal clock that runs in the background of our brain, it is also known as the sleep/wake cycle. It functions best when we have a regular sleep pattern – going to bed and getting up at the same time every day including weekends.⠀
It is the hypothalamus part of our brain that controls our circadian rhythm, and also outside factors such as light and dark. At night when it’s dark, our eyes send a signal to the hypothalamus that it’s time to sleep and our brain then sends a signal to our bodies to release melatonin which makes us feel naturally tired. ⠀
Our Circadian rhythm changes as we get older, sleeping for hours on end as we did in our 20s becomes a distant memory. And It’s very common for us to have a different sleep pattern to our male partners, women tend to naturally want to go to sleep earlier and wake up earlier, sound familiar?!⠀
Sleep is critical for our optimal health and wellbeing and without it, our body can’t restore and rejuvenate. Whilst we sleep our body grows new muscle and repairs body tissue, and we need long periods of sleep so our sympathetic nervous system – which controls our flight or fight response – gets a much-needed chance to relax. Sleep increases our immunity and balances our hormones and as many of us know, hormonal changes cause havoc with our sleep pattern putting us into a sleepless vicious circle. ⠀
I’ve already talked about how depleting progesterone levels and the daily stressors of life impact our sleep. Next,
it’s how we can prepare ourselves for, hopefully, a long and peaceful night in the lad of nod.