Our sleep schedules do vary from person to person, depending in large part on the environmental cues we give our bodies when we set our alarms, when we are most active during the day, when we eat, and when we let ourselves hit the pillow.
There’s a reason we tend to feel sleepy around the same time each night — and why, if we don’t set an alarm, we tend to wake up at the same time in the mornings. As long as we’re not pulling all-nighters or traveling across several time zones, our bodies tend to want to follow consistent sleep patterns (which is key for getting the high-quality sleep we need).
And because our sleep schedules depend on the signals we send our bodies — such as “it’s not time to go to bed yet, there’s another episode of The Crown queued up on Netflix I should watch” that means we can send our bodies signals to adjust our sleep schedules, too. Just because you’re in a rut of going to bed at 2 a.m. doesn’t mean you can’t change that!
If you do want to get your sleep schedule back on track, you’re going to need to reset your body clock. Our body clocks regulate our bodies’ circadian rhythms — the patterns of physical, mental, and behavioral changes, including sleep patterns, regulated by body temperature, hormone secretion, and external factors like light and darkness — according to the National Institutes of Health.
Our body’s master clock is located in a part of the brain’s hypothalamus called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), which receives light information from the retina in the eye and sends the information to other parts of the brain, including the gland that releases the sleep-signaling hormone, melatonin, says Rochelle Zozula, PhD, a sleep specialist and owner of Sleep Services International in Bridgewater, New Jersey. “Light suppresses that production of melatonin, which is directly involved in sleep initiation,” she says.
That means the light signals you send your brain, whether from sunlight or from glowing computer and cellphone screens, are some of the key factors that can either keep your sleep schedule on track, get it back on track, or throw it off significantly.
SOURCE: Everyday Health