Monday, June 23, 2008

Sleeping Patterns Are Governed by Light (last part)

What Happens When Your Biological Clock is Disrupted?

Your body depends on your biological clock to steadily regulate your sleep/wake cycle, but when this process gets thrown off balance, it can wreak havoc on your health.

And it is actually quite easy to disrupt your body clock. For instance, all of the following can confuse your body and make it think you should be awake when you should be sleeping, or vice versa:
  • Staying up late
  • Working the night shift
  • Turning on a light in the middle of the night
  • Using a night light
  • Switching time zones (jet lag)
  • Eating in the middle of the night or too close to bedtime
Your body’s internal clocks (you actually have many, in your brain, lungs, liver, heart and even your skeletal muscles) influence so many things -- from your heart rate to body temperature and hormone production -- that when they’re thrown out of whack all kinds of things can happen. For instance, a disrupted body clock may cause you to you gain weight or increase your risk of cancer.

Using Darkness to Help You Sleep

Making simple changes in your bedroom to keep the light out during the night can have a major impact on your sleep quality. Even the chiropractor at my office, Dr. Lloyd Fielder, was surprised at the benefit when he installed blackout drapes in his bedroom.

He was shocked at how much better he felt -- it radically improved the quality of his sleep. Personally, I sleep in a room that is so dark, it’s even pitch black at noon. You can achieve this in your own bedroom by:
  • Installing blackout drapes
  • Closing your bedroom door if light comes through it, and even putting a towel along the base to prevent light from seeping in
  • Getting rid of your electric clock radio (or at least covering it up at night)
  • Avoiding night lights of any kind
  • Keeping all light off at night (even if you get up to go to the bathroom) -- this includes the TV!