What is the body clock?
The body’s [biological clock] is a 24-hour cycle from day to night. It is affected by light and darkness, reminding the body when to sleep and when to get up.
For the human body, the 24-hour rhythm biological clock plays many important functions, such as:
- Sleep and awakening, body temperature rhythm, body fluid balance and other physiological functions, such as hunger at meal time.
Does the biological clock affect sleep?
Of course, the biological clock affects our sleep through melatonin.
Melatonin is an endocrine hormone in human body, which helps the body to fall asleep and maintain sleep state. Melatonin secretion has circadian rhythm and is more secreted at night.
During the day, bright light will send a signal to the body, reducing melatonin secretion. However, if you work in artificial light at night, the melatonin secreted by the body will also decrease under the influence of light.
Some people’s circadian rhythm is different from that of most people. They either like to stay up late and have to wait until late at night to fall asleep. Or go to bed early. There are also some people whose circadian rhythm is normal, but if they encounter special circumstances such as having to work night shift, they also need to adjust their biological clock to adapt to the new schedule.
What causes affect the biological clock?
Some reasons may affect the body’s secretion of melatonin, resulting in sleep problems.
1. Jet lag
Crossing different time zones can disturb the biological clock. After a long flight, the body has reached a new time zone, but the biological clock still stays in the original time zone and is not adjusted in time, thus causing various sleep problems.
For example, if you fly from Beijing to New York, you will cross 13 time zones, which means that Beijing time is 13 hours earlier than New York (during the winter season). When you arrive in New York at 7 a.m., your body is still at 20 p.m. Beijing time. Although New York’s new day has just begun, your body is already feeling sleepy.
Step 2 Change your sleep schedule
If we need to work the night shift, our biological clocks have to be reset so that we can sleep during the day. This seems simple, but in fact it is not the case.
Those who work night shifts or shift shifts often have sleep problems. They cannot sleep during the day and feel very tired when they need to work hard at night.
3. Sleep environment
Strong light and noise will affect sleep and make the body think that it is not the time to sleep.
4. Diseases and drugs
Certain diseases and health problems can affect sleep, such as dementia, cranial injury, coma recovery and severe anxiety. In addition, some drugs that affect the central nervous system can also affect sleep.
Alcohol can also affect sleep. If you drink before going to bed, although it may not affect sleep, it may cause you to wake up in the middle of the night.
How to adjust the biological clock?
Here are some ways to deal with common problems, hoping to help you.
1. Jet lag
If you are troubled by jet lag, taking melatonin supplements may help adjust your biological clock. Some studies have shown that melatonin can relieve the symptoms of jet lag syndrome for people who travel frequently across continents.
However, the safety and effectiveness of melatonin have not been fully understood. Long-term high-dose administration of melatonin, as well as taking it together with certain drugs, may lead to a series of adverse reactions.
Therefore, please consult a doctor before taking melatonin-containing health care products, and do not blindly buy them.
In addition, some sleeping pills may also help jet lag. However, these drugs may also have side effects, such as headache, vertigo and gastrointestinal discomfort. If you need to take them, please follow the doctor’s advice.
Step 2 Work shifts
If you have to work night shift due to work needs, the following suggestions can help us sleep better:
There is no light in the bedroom, draw thick curtains or wear sleep blindfolds;
Keep the room quiet, or wear earplugs to isolate noise;
Don’t drink caffeinated drinks for a few hours before going to bed.
Don’t drink before going to bed, especially don’t use wine to help sleep.
If conditions permit, you can take a nap during the rest time at work.
If you feel strong discomfort, you can consult your doctor to see if you need to take dietary supplements or drugs.
3. Night owls
If you are a night owl who is used to sleeping late at night and getting up late during the day, and is worried that your current sleep schedule affects your work and study, you can try the following methods, which may help you fall asleep earlier and sleep better.
- Whenever you go to bed, get up at a fixed time every day. On weekends (or days when you don’t need to get up early), even if you don’t need to get up early, don’t get up more than an hour later than usual.
If this method does not work, but is eager to adjust your schedule, you can go to the hospital sleep specialist. After the doctor evaluates your health and sleep, he will use professional methods to help you adjust your biological clock. Here are some methods that may be used clinically:
(1) Light therapy
Illumination therapy generally uses high-brightness artificial light boxes to simulate sunlight, so that people with sleep disorders are exposed to the light boxes at a specific time, thus inhibiting melatonin secretion and achieving the effect of adjusting biological clocks.
For different sleep disorders, the exposure time and intensity of light are also different.
(2) Time therapy
Night owls need to sleep a few hours late every night for several days under the guidance of a doctor to reset their biological clocks. Time therapy usually lasts for about 2 weeks.
This method is very challenging and needs to avoid all kinds of hints about natural time in the environment. It needs to be strictly implemented in hospitals clinically.
Maintain good sleep habits
After adjusting to the ideal biological clock, what needs to be done next is to form a good sleep habit.
This includes regular exercise (but please don’t exercise within 4 hours before going to bed), going to bed at a fixed time every day, and not doing things unrelated to sleep such as working in bed or reading books.
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