Sleep and Maintaining a Good Body Clock

Sleep and Maintaining A Good Body Clock 

Each of us have an internal body clock called the Suprachaismatic Nucleus that regulates our daily sleep – wake patterns. This is often referred to as the “Body Clock” and it governs the release and timing of most mood, energy and sleep related hormones. The body clock is dependant on light signals to function properly each day, dawn and dusk allows us to know when wake up or go to sleep. For many people their lifestyles, living conditions, work, health and other conditions don’t allow them to get the correct wake – sleep signals anymore. When we don’t get these correct signals, our sleep – wake patterns suffer and this can develop into a sleep disorder. When we have disrupted sleep patterns our body becomes stressed from the release of hormones at incorrect times in the day.

Good quality sleep gives the body a chance to repair, recover and heal. We get our physiological recovery between 10pm and 2pm and our psychological and nervous system recovery between 2am and 6am. If you are getting into bed at 12pm on a regular basis it means that you are missing two hours a night of your physical recovery. This can result in all sorts of aches pains and niggles that will not get better.

Refer to the charts below for more details. When our bodies are healthy we can get away with the odd late night here or there without affecting us to much. However, when we abuse our sleep times on a regular basis, this becomes a major stress to the body, upsetting hormonal balance and causing adrenal fatigue. When the body is under stress of any sort, the immune system suffers…THERE ARE NO EXCEPTIONS TO THIS!

Sometimes we cannot change our sleeping situation, for example, shift workers or parents with new babies. In these situations it is important to look after yourself in all other areas of your life to reduce overall load.

Our daily sleep – wake patterns are called circadian rhythms. ‘Circadian’ is Latin for ‘about a day’. If you struggle with sleep a circadian rhythm disorder is probably a factor. The body clock uses signals like sunlight and darkness to know when to produce the active hormones and when to shut them down and release the night time withdrawal and sleep hormones. Our bodies crave and need regularity in all areas of our lives and this is not just related to sleep. Our bodies thrive when we have regular eating, sleeping, hydration, exercise and other important life principles. If we have the required regularity then our system will be in time with our body clock. When we lose the regularity that our system needs them we suffer in many areas. 

Things that inhibit sleep 

Many things can disrupt our sleep – wake cycles, working late in bright lights, especially florescent, electromagnetic stress from computers, TVs flickering, training at high intensities late in the evening, coffee, V drinks, sweet deserts. Alcohol and sugar can both make you crash to sleep but then wake later in the night through a drop in blood sugar level, to find yourself tossing and turning in the early hours and feeling hungry.

Toxicity in the body is a common thing today as people eat more and more processed foods, bad fats, food coloring and preservatives. Entrainment is another factor. People can retrain a sleep pattern with in 7 to 21 days, for example if you stay up till midnight for three weeks in a row your internal body clock will be trained to wait till midnight to start cortisol reduction. This means melatonin, the sleep recovery and repair hormone kick in very late and you will be robbed of recovery time. This over time leads to chronic fatigue, adrenal stress, suppressed immune function and poor or impaired physiological repair resulting in aches pains and niggles.

The Sleep/Wake Cycle

Figure 1: Natural sleep/wake cycle.

 

Many of our hormones are produced in tune with the cycle of the sun. Stress/activating Hormones (black Line) are produced as the sun rises and peaks around mid-morning. As the day progresses, the levels of the stress hormones decrease. The body then begins to increases production of growth and repair hormones, (white line) as the sun goes down. Our bodies are designed to wind down from sunset till about 10 pm when sleep and physical repair should begin. Psychogenic repair takes place predominantly from about 2 am to 6 am.

Figure 2: Disrupted sleep/wake cycle.

 A typical day for many involves elevated levels stress levels, resulting in increased levels of the stress hormones throughout the day (black line), resulting in decreased levels of growth and repair hormones (white line). Although the healthy body can bounce back from Intermittent circadian stresses, chronic (long-term) circadian stress often leads to depressed immunity, illness and chronic fatigue.

Source—How to eat move and Be Healthy, Pages 202-203, Copyright 2004, Paul Chek.

Foundation Principles For Improved Health

Be Mindful Of Your Thoughts

The first thing you do when you wake up is think. It might not be anything profound other than realizing you desperately need to go to the bathroom.

However, some would agree that your very first thoughts upon waking will determine your mood for the rest of the day – be it upbeat or downcast. This in turn will have quite a serious impact on the quality of the decisions you make. For example, if you`re in a foul mood when you come home from work you may decide to treat yourself by hitting the sofa with a tub of ice cream rather than burning that negative energy off with a long walk.

Breathe Deeply and Slowly To Relax

As babies we know subconsciously how to breathe properly. But as we grow into adults our breathing patterns often become shortened and more shallow. This is mainly due to the hectic nature of our lifestyles, which often puts us into a “fight or flight” stress pattern for extended periods of time. When you feel under pressure those stressful thoughts will manifest themselves physically as a faster heartbeat and a shallow breathing pattern which originates in the chest. With a correct breathing pattern you will see your stomach muscles extending first followed by the extension of your ribcage, which automatically makes you breathe more deeply and slowly. This has a calming effect.

Get To Bed On Time

In their book Lights Out, Wiley and Formby`s compelling research tells us that a good night`s sleep will help you lose weight, curb your cravings for refined carbohydrates, eradicate depression and reverse Type II diabetes. Whether you achieve a restful sleep will be determined by your state of mind, the food that you`ve eaten and if there are any sources of electromagnetic stress, such as a TV, laptop or mobile phone, in your bedroom. Research that has made the connection between regular sleep patterns and your health is hard to ignore.

Let Food Be Your Drug Of Choice

The incessant consumer demand for a huge choice of cheap and convenient food has put incredible pressure on commercial farmers to employ harmful farming practices in order to meet the strict standards placed upon them by powerful supermarkets. These farming practices are irreparably damaging the soil in which our food is grown, which simply means that our fruit and vegetables simply aren`t as nutritious as they once were.
Food is an incredibly powerf

ul drug, which is why it`s important that each individual works out which combination of proteins, carbohydrates and fats for every meal is best for his/her optimal health and wellbeing.It`s also important that we become more discerning with the food businesses that we choose to give our hard earned money to. Buying locally grown, organic whole food, which is in season, will support your own community and is an essential component to becoming fit and healthy.

Water Your Internal Garden

Dr Batmanghelidj pointed out in his book “Your Body`s Many Cries For Water” that dehydration is a common cause for many ailments and diseases. In order to maintain good levels of energy, concentration and digestive function it is important to drink good clean, filtered water on a regular basis. Paul Chek of the CHEK Institute recommends the following formula in order to calculate the amount of water you need: 0.033 x your weight in kilograms = litres of water to drink per day. In order for you to look and feel great on the outside you need to maintain a good level of hydration on the inside.

Exercise To Boost Your Energy Levels

Just as you need to spend money in order to make money the same applies to exercise and your energy levels. Regular exercise will improve your body shape, protect your heart from disease, strengthen your joints and bones and relieve stress. An essential factor to successfully incorporating any exercise program permanently into your lifestyle isenjoyment. Without the enjoyment your exercise program will be just another chore on your to-do list.

Whether it`s right or wrong, given a choice of a ton of money or perfect health most people will generally choose money as their stepping stone to happiness. However, in this current economic climate the financial turmoil has led many people to re-evaluate their priorities as they begin to realise that without their health and wellbeing, the quest to find the “holy grail” that is happiness is a futile one. Unlike many over-hyped health products sold on the market today, the six foundation principles are representative of the ancient wisdoms that have been passed down from generation to generation of healthy communities around the world. Simply put they are the bedrock of a fulfilling and happy life.

As a CHEK Exercise Coach we offer a “physiological load assessment” which will uncover your roadblocks to success and allow you to focus on what is driving your health for better or worse. We can then determine the priority area(s) of your health that needs the most help to get you back on track to obtaining your optimal health.

Article sources
How To Eat, Move And Be Healthy by Paul Chek
Lights Out: Sugar, Sleep and Survival by T.S. Wiley and Brent Formby Phd
The Metabolic Typing Diet by William Wolcott and Trish Fahey
Your Body`s Many Cries For Water by Dr F. Batmanghelidj