The critical period for your circadian rhythm is in the morning. If you can expose your eyes to sunlight in the morning, it tunes your circadian rhythm to that time.
Light comes in dramatically different quantities. While a normally lit room exposes your eyes to 300 lux, a bright sunny day exposes your eyes to 10,000 lux – 33x more!
That is why sunlight is so important. If you live in an area that lacks sunlight or if it’s cloudy very often, consider purchasing a light therapy lamp. This is likely the single most effective technique to managing your circadian rhythm.
Another way of tuning your circadian rhythm is to build in natural light into your regular routine, even if it is not in the morning.
For example, make a habit of taking a walk every day or spend time next to a window as much as you can. If you spend all day inside a dimly lit room, your circadian rhythm has a hard time getting the right signals.
Avoid Light at Night
The opposite of seeking out sunlight in the morning is avoiding light at night. Bright lights at night fool your body into thinking that it’s still daytime. Biologically, it does this by suppressing the production of melatonin, which signals to your SCN that it is nighttime.
Specifically, blue light has more of an effect on melatonin production than red lights.
Actionable Tip: If you’re able to, switch any blue-tinted lights in your house to orange-tinted lights.
Actionable Tip: Use night mode or dark mode on your phone, which emphasizes reds over blues.
Actionable Tip: Try a screen-free hour before bed.
Adjusting Your Environment
Now that we’ve learned to master our circadian rhythm, your body knows when to fall asleep. But what about the quality of sleep?
You can increase your quality of sleep and decrease the time it takes for you to fall asleep by cultivating the perfect sleep environment. Make your bedroom your sleep sanctuary!
Actionable Tip: Bedroom For Sleep
Our brains sometimes follow very simple rules. The key rule here is that if we reserve a place for only one activity, then as soon as we enter that place our brain prepares itself for that one activity.
For example, entering our favorite restaurant might cause our stomach to rumble because our body is ready to eat. We can take advantage of this rule for sleep by using the bedroom only for sleep. This strengthens the association between the ‘bedroom’ and ‘time to sleep’
in your brain.
Actionable Tip: Make Your Bedroom Dark
Because light is the key to controlling your circadian rhythm, it’s important to fall sleep in as dark an environment as possible.
- Buy blackout curtains to block out the sun.
- Remove night lights or at least use red- tinted night lights.
- Use an eye mask to cover your eyes.
Actionable Tip: Make Your Bedroom Cold
Studies show that we have better quality sleep in a cool environment. Specifically, one
study shows that 60 – 72 degrees Fahrenheit is the best temperature for sleeping.
This temperature is dependent on your bedding, personal temperature preference, and humidity. In general, cooler is better than warmer.
This is because when you sleep, your body temperature drops a little bit. A cooler room makes it easier for your temperature to drop a bit.
Actionable Tip: Make Your Bedroom Quiet
The last element of a perfect bedroom is to make it quiet and without nighttime interruptions that might wake you up. Of course, depending on where you live, it can be impossible to have a totally quiet bedroom.
Instead, you can try earplugs or use a white noise machine or fan to mask ambient
sounds. Think of how bats sleep in a cave. It’s dark, cold, and quiet – just like your bedroom can be.