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Poor quality sleep? Weight gain? It's probably time to reset your body clock

If your battle to get out of bed is turning into an all day struggle, it could be down to a disrupted body clock

We all have a circadian rhythm, also known as your body clock or sleep-wake cycle, that acts as your body’s internal timing device.

Primarily responsive to light and darkness in the environment, the process enables our bodies to follow a daily pattern of physical, mental, and behavioural changes that help us know when to sleep, wake, eat, exercise and even work.

A disrupted body clock can lead to poor quality sleep, weight gain and even health problems, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Here are six strategies to help reset your inner timer.  

1. Switch off your screen at night 

Light is the main influence on your body clock and looking at the bright light of a laptop screen in the evening can disrupt its natural balance. Phone screens and computers have a bluer, more disruptive wavelength than other light, including yellow.

2. Avoid coffee in the evening 

Scientists have now proven what most of us have already experienced – coffee keeps you awake.  Coffee pushes back the release of the circadian hormone melatonin, which tells your body when it’s time to sleep. Because its release is delayed, your body doesn’t think that it is night time until later and will keep you awake.

3. Swerve social burnout 

Your body clock likes routine and late nights can throw your body out of sync. Try to go to bed around the same time most evenings to help restore your body back to normal service.

4. Eat at regular meal times 

Breakfast, lunch and dinner are signals to our body to fire up our metabolism and fuel up during the active hours of the day. Eating erratically can confuse this signal and knock our body clock off course.  

5. Stay cool

Keeping your bedroom cool can help to bring your core temperature down and signal to your body that it is time for sleep. The optimal bedroom temperature for a good night’s sleep is below 21 degrees celsius (70 degrees fahrenheit).

6. Invest in circadian lighting 

Circadian lighting systems are specifically designed to use feedback from the environment to control the colour and intensity of the light at particular times. Blue wavelengths are beneficial during daylight hours because they boost attention, reaction times and mood, but can have a disruptive effect at night. These can be controlled throughout the day and set to transition towards darkness in the evening.

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