Reset Your Biological Clock for Seasonal Changes
By Dr. Michael Murray
In this article:
As the seasons change, often our sleep-wake cycle is disturbed. The sleep-wake cycle is part of our “circadian rhythm” that regulates many important biological processes, such as hormone production and sleep patterns, and is largely controlled by external cues in the environment – mainly light and its influence of the important hormone melatonin.
A disturbance in our sleep-wake cycle is characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness, restless nights, and frequent nighttime awakenings. It is very common in shift workers, pilots and flight attendants, and the elderly. It is also more common during seasonal changes. All of these situations are due to altered melatonin secretion.
So, let me share with you a remarkably effective way that I have discovered to help people reset their sleep-wake cycle naturally.
7 Keys to Resetting Your Sleep-Wake Cycle
Practice good sleep hygiene by developing a regular nightly routine that might involve taking a warm shower or bath, reading a book, doing light stretches. Also, be sure to make your sleep environment very comfortable. Consider blocking out light and noise as much as possible and limit daytime naps to no more than 30 minutes.
Do more during the day with your body and mind. Regular exercise is particularly important.
Avoid stimulants and sleep disrupters. If you suffer from poor sleep quality, try giving up coffee and other sources of caffeine, even tea, as well as alcohol to see what happens. Ten days is a good trial.
Stabilize blood sugar levels throughout the day and night by avoiding foods that cause a rapid rise in blood sugar levels. Specifically, avoid refined sugars, especially sucrose and high fructose corn syrup; pastries; beverages packed full of sugars (soft drinks, sports drinks, and many coffee beverages); and other high sugar foods. The sugars in these foods are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, causing a rapid rise in blood sugar and severely stressing blood sugar control.
Practice letting go of worry, pain, fear of future or circumstances, and control. Instead, replace it with hope, mindfulness, and patience. Try to give in to feelings of peace and comfort.
Ensure adequate daytime exposure to natural light or use full-spectrum lighting.
Methylcobalamin is the body’s active form of vitamin B12. Methylcobalamin has been shown to help some people suffering from sleep-wake disorder. Simply taking methylcobalamin (3 mg daily first thing in the morning) has often led to improved sleep quality, increased daytime alertness and concentration, and improved mood. Much of the benefit appears to be a result of methylcobalamin influencing melatonin secretion. Basically, it shuts it down during the day so that it can be released at bedtime. To help the body reset, I also recommend taking 3 mg of melatonin at bedtime about 30 minutes or so before bedtime.
One month of methylcobalamin in the morning and melatonin at bedtime can be very effective in resetting your cycle. If you are suffering from daytime sleepiness, lack of mental sharpness, fatigue, poor sleep quality, or you travel internationally on a regular basis, perform shift work, or have many nights of disrupted sleep, give this protocol a trial. I have seen it dramatically improve the quality of life in people with a disturbed sleep-wake cycle.