We have an internal body clock called circadian rhythm that runs in a 24 –hour cycle and tells our bodies when we should sleep, wake up and eat. This is how it influences many processes in our body. When we don’t sleep well or enough, we tend to overeat and we typically choose food high in sugar, hoping that this will provide us with the missing energy. These poor choices will have a bad effect on other organs in our body and will result in a lack of essential nutrients to produce our sleep hormone.
Our sleep hormone melatonin is produced when its dark. It tells us that it is time to sleep. This is a mechanism that is as old as the human history. This natural rhythm has been heavily disrupted due to a constant exposure to artificial light. The body clock is also affected by insufficient daylight exposure, especially in the morning, shift work, regular travel across different time zones, and blue (day) light in the evening through the use of screen technology, such as TV and mobile phones.
Disrupted circadian rhythm has been linked with increased risk of cardiovascular events, obesity, breast cancer, depression and other neurological problems.
Our sleeping patterns can also be affected by stress. Melatonin cannot do its work when our stress hormone cortisol is floating around in our body. While working to regulate stress hormones is a process that requires more attention, there are things that you can do right now to ensure that you produce the right hormones for having a good night sleep. The first one is to spend more time outdoors during the day. You can take a longer walk to work in the morning or you can go for a walk on your lunch break. The next thing that you can do is to stop using your mobile, laptop or watch TV two hours before you go to bed. If you are not ready to do that right away, switch your device into night mode. If your mobile or laptop does not have this option, you can just decrease the brightness by 50% and it will make a big difference. I personally have the brightness of my phone set for night mode on a sunset. You can read a book or Kindle before you go to sleep instead.
Deep sleep helps to manage our stress levels during the day. Melatonin is also a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent, lowers blood pressure and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (the ‘bad type of cholesterol’).
The amount of hours that we should sleep every night depends on age group, but most adults need 8 hours of good sleep to function well. The range is between 7-9 hours for an adult person.
Our body needs the right sources to take from and to produce our hormones. We cannot make a delicious cake using cement. Everything that we eat and drink can be either an essential or a detrimental ingredient. To find out the essential nutrients for your hormonal production, please download my Food for Happy Mood guide at the bottom of the page. Thank you for reading!