Barbara Roberts, Homeopath

Altering Circadian Rhythms

My eldest child is a bit of a night owl, and enjoys sleeping in in the mornings. That’s been fine in the school holidays but with school rapidly approaching we need to move her to waking earlier and going to bed earlier so she gets enough sleep! If you, or your child is like her then this post is for you 😊

We all operate on our personal circadian rhythm, where we wake at a particular time and go to sleep at a particular time. You can notice this when there are changes with daylight savings time beginning or ending, or in the Olden days when international travel was a thing, with jet lag (hopefully one day soon we will be able to return to travelling!).

There are two main things you can do to support the body dealing with a change in time and help reset your own circadian rhythm.

First of all is light. Exposure to sunlight early in the morning helps the brain recognise it is daytime. Likewise dark is important for the production and activation of melatonin that tells us to go to sleep.

If you are trying to move your circadian rhythm to wake earlier, as soon as you are awake, throw open those curtains, sit outside, and enjoy the morning light.

The second cue to the body is food. Take note of what times you are currently eating. Many people do not eat as soon as they wake up, and if they have a later circadian rhythm will eat their final meal or snack later into the evening.

Along with light, changing your food intake will cue your body that the circadian rhythm needs to shift.

Eat breakfast early, in that early morning light. After you eat dinner do not snack, and if you can have dinner 2-3 hours before bedtime. If you are trying to move things gradually move both of these earlier to acclimate to the new time.

There are other things to consider also.

Have a consistent bedtime routine. Whether this is a shower before bed, reading a book or something else try and make it the same every night so your body gets that “it’s bedtime” cue.

Screen time degrades melatonin. Make an effort at night to avoid screens as much as you can, or if you have to use them wear blue light glasses. LED lights may have a similar effect and a halogen bedside lamp may have a better choice.

Exercise is also important, it helps with the production of melatonin. In general avoid strenuous exercise just before bedtime, but otherwise do exercise at a time that suits you. For some this is in the morning, others prefer it later in the day. Lack of exercise though may contribute to difficulty falling asleep.

Homeopathy does not have a magic bullet here, but the following two remedies may help deal with any acute effects from changing time. The two remedies that shine are the same ones for jet lag:

Cocculus is a remedy for the after effects of not enough sleep – irritability (with anything and everything, from noises to touch to being contradicted), nausea and headaches

Gelsemium is a remedy for fatigue, where everything feels heavy, like you can’t lift your arms or even your eyelids.

There are over 200 remedies that have falling asleep late as part of their picture, and if the above methods using light and food to help move the circadian rhythm do not work, then a consultation to find the homeopathic remedy that describes everything that is going on is the next step. Send me a message if I can help you or your children.

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