How should we set our body clocks. What are the best hours to sleep.
Good Night, Sleep Tight, See you in the Morning Light.So the bedtime poem says, becoming the goodnight words I would recite to my children as they snuggled down for the night.
But what if you never see the morning light because you work late, and you are just not a morning person? Recently my son returned from New York (The city that never sleeps) where he has been living for the past three years, to move in with me during the Covid19 Pandemic. All his friends are mostly on the other side of the pond so he stays up late chatting. His online work demands, that he often has to work in the middle of the night. Our paths cross in the kitchen, I am making lunch as he is making breakfast. He says he is not a morning person, He demonstrates this by being grumpy and not wanting to talk. My Niece is also not a morning person, she needs two coffees before she will utter a simple good morning word or even a smile.
I however, have seen the light. Forcing myself out of the door and walking for an hour before 9am and coming home refreshed. I always write in the morning too. I feel my brain is clear and fresh.
should we be awake in daylight hours?
Research has discovered, that even for one 24 hour period of staying awake all night and sleeping during the day can lead to changes in more than 100 proteins in your blood affecting your blood sugar, immune system and your metabolism.
Many of us understand what happens when we do not have the right amount of sleep. Not having enough can lead to tiredness, lack of energy and irritability. Sleep deprivation has been used in torture techniques by cruel regimes for centuries. Overtime, it can lead to many health problems ie:- Diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure, stroke and even obesity. But it now seems that this new evidence is saying why and when we sleep is just as important and we should take note. These biochemical changes in our blood protein can elevate the risk of us facing some of these health issues.
Ayurvedic Medicine believes that we should focus on the early hours.
Ayurvedic also believes that routine is good discipline for our bodies and our minds. This daily routine is called Dinacharya. Din means day and Acharya means to follow. These early hours can be instrumental in starting our day off, helping to strengthen our immunity and balance.
Brahma Muhurta – This, it is believed, is the Time to Create Yourself.
If you think of night time as the period from sunset until sunrise. the final quarter of the night is what is called Brahma Muhurta. During this time there are certain physiological changes which happen to our bodies. According to ‘Sadhguru’ medical science has found that waste material such as our urine has certain qualities at this time which is unlike any other time of day.
It is thought that if we wake up about one and a half hours before the sun comes up and it gets light, you can sychronize with the rhythm of the sun.
This was the time I was encouraged to do a yoga practice whilst I was staying in Jaipur India. This early time of the morning is when there is peace and calm and we are fresh from our sleep. I must say I was not good at waking up and going out at that time. It was cold in those early mornings. However, since returning to Spain, the early morning is the only part of the day, when it feels cool and fresh and I have come to appreciate and love this period.
The waste of daylight.
In the beginning of the 20th century, an English man called William Willet, a builder from Chislehurst, often noticed whilst he was out on a morning ride that the shutters in many houses were still down after the sun had risen. This realisation was going to lead to the beginning of the practice of adjusting our clocks twice a year.
In agriculture the timing of sun rises and sunsets were never a huge problem because farmers and animals adjusted accordingly. However, in an ever increasing industrial world, where our working day was set by the clock, this was presenting some problems as people were sleeping in and missing out on daylight hours. In 1907 William Willet proposed a solution to adjust our clocks. However it was not until nine years later, and following a war with Germany that William Willet’s proposal was taken up by parliament and put into action. Now when the clocks change we can allow our bodies to adjust to more daylight hours
My father worked night shifts in a factory, I remember my mother writing on the calendar, how many night shifts he would do, and then how many day shifts. Usually it would be twelve and in between he would be given a couple of days to adjust his body clock. He worked like this for years and it must have been difficult for him. Something I never fully appreciated.
Recently I have been diet coaching some nurses who were having to cope with night shifts. These were playing havoc with their eating patterns as often it was tempting for them to exist on food that had been sitting in vending machines. Surviving on empty calories to get them through the night. This was where our protein shakes became an advantage to them as they were able to give them the extra energy and nutrition they needed as they coped with some exhausting work during unsociable hours.
I worry that my son’s body clock has been out of sync now for a number of months. He says he feels fine but there is only so much a body can take. I remind him occasionally that he is getting a bit grumpy but I guess he would prefer to put that down to living with me.
We can only do what we can do.
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