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The Importance of Sleep and Understanding Your Body’s Internal Clock

Have you ever still felt tired after sleeping for nine hours or more straight? You probably felt confused and tried to recalculate the hours slept over and over or, blamed it on other things. Well turns out, there’s an explanation to this sleep frenzy and it’s quite simple. Your body has a circadian rhythm (also known as your sleep/wake cycle or body clock) which is a natural, internal system that's designed to regulate feelings of sleepiness and wakefulness over a 24-hour period. This internal system is controlled by an area of the brain that responds to light; This is why humans are most alert while the sun is shining and are ready to sleep when it's dark outside.

Your circadian rhythm causes your level of wakefulness to increase and decrease throughout the day. If you follow your body’s natural cues regarding when to go to sleep and wake up, your circadian rhythm should stay balanced, but a change in your schedule (like if you stay up late studying for a test or stay up late watching a movie on Saturday), can disrupt your body clock. This is why it’s not only important for students and younger children to get all of their rest, but also adults. Eight hours are recommended for children and nine hours are recommended for adults. Following these three tips will keep your body’s circadian rhythm functioning as it

Step 1: Stick to a consistent sleep schedule. Waking up at the same time daily will keep your circadian rhythm in check. This includes those moments when you may want to sleep in on the weekends or while on vacation but be aware that these sudden changes can throw off the balance of your body’s circadian rhythm.

Step 2: Get some early morning sun. In the morning, exposure to the sun or indoor lighting will give you an energy boost and can also reset your circadian rhythm.

Step 3: Limit bright lighting in the evening. Decreasing your phone’s lighting to 0%, turning off the lamps and, turning off the TV while sleeping, can all help get your circadian rhythm back on track. Artificial blue lights that many electronic devices emit, can confuse the brain into
thinking its daytime and not time to shut down for sleeping. Try to turn these lights off a few hours before heading to bed.



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