The Rhythm of Life – Understanding Your Circadian Rhythms and How to Balance Them

Written by Lyz Cooper, Therapeutic Music Advisor at Zepp Aura

In this blog-post we will understand more about the delicate balance of our circadian rhythms and address the impact that the rhythm of our lives can have on our sleep, health and wellbeing. We will also look at how you can use real-time bespoke therapeutic music along with a few simple tips to not only get a good night’s sleep, but also to adjust your circadian rhythms and potentially improve your life.

Your Work/Sleep Rhythm

Research has shown that not getting enough sleep is a problem for many of us and that it can lead to a host of different health conditions including an increase in weight gain, type 2 diabetes, stress, cardiovascular disease and mental health problems.¹ Did you know that the type of work you do can impact your quality of sleep? A study by Loft and Cameron (2014) took our understanding of how much we take our work home to a new level, showing that if your job demands a lot of cognitive processing, you are more likely to feel sleepier later in the evening than those who do not have mentally taxing jobs. On the other hand, if you have a job that demands a lot from you emotionally, it is likely that you will want to go to bed earlier (but may also wake up earlier).²

The reality is that most of us lead busy, stressful lives that demand a lot of mental and emotional energy, so what can we do to find balance in this case? The good news is, with a little understanding of the underlying mechanisms and with some cutting-edge technology, we can change the rhythm of our lives and as a result, we may improve our health and wellbeing.

Your Circadian Rhythms

Your circadian rhythms are an important regulator of daily sleep-wakefulness timing, as well as other physiological and biological processes such as our metabolism.² These rhythms can be influenced by environmental factors such as light, meal-times, physical activity, caffeine and certain medication. Your DNA also has an influence on your natural rhythms and to develop a healthy rhythm in your life, it may be helpful to discover what chronotype you are. Your chronotype is your biological preference for mornings or evenings — are you an early bird or a night owl? If you naturally want to stay up later then there is no point in forcing yourself to sleep earlier in the evening as you are likely to lay in bed awake. If you’re not sure what chronotype you are, try taking this online quiz Your work schedule will dictate, to a certain extent, your waking times but the good news is that flexible working hours are becoming more acceptable in many forward-thinking companies these days.

Studies have shown that bright light exposure around the time of our usual bedtime delays our natural rhythms and sleep patterns.³⁴⁵ When you feel yourself getting drowsy, or at least an hour before your intended bedtime, begin your sleep preparation ritual. Dim the lighting in your room and close the curtains if its light outside. Put down your devices and If you’re watching TV change the programme to something soothing or better still, read or put on some relaxing music instead.

We know that caffeine is a stimulant and that it can also disrupt our natural circadian rhythm. In fact, the sleep foundation recommends stopping our caffeine intake up to six hours before bedtime.⁶ Drink herbal tea instead of caffeinated drinks instead. As food has an influence on circadian rhythms, aim to eat no closer than 3–4 hours before bed if you can.

Temperature is also something to consider. To help you wind down, make the room slightly warmer and you should start to feel drowsy. When you get to bed make sure the temperature in the bedroom is slightly cooler and the room is dark. Avoid using any bright devices when you’re in bed as we’ve already discovered, light disrupts the circadian rhythms. Turn on the Zepp Aura Sleep Music app if you’ve not already done so.

Your Rhythms and Music

Cutting-edge technology and the knowledge from leading experts in sleep and therapeutic music combine to deliver you bespoke music adjusted specifically to your biorhythms. Music delivered in real-time responds to you minute-by-minute, delivering the right music to suit your needs. Pre composed music cannot do this and as a result, may not give you the results you are looking for. Your wearable measures your heart rate, blood pressure and breathing patterns whilst at the same time, the music adapts quickly and seamlessly to you, gently lulling you into sleep. If you wake in the night, you can use the music to switch off your mind more quickly and as a result, you may wake up feeling more refreshed. Our sleep music has been specifically composed to induce relaxation and aid sleep, helping you to switch off a busy mind.

We recommend that you begin listening to the music at least 30 minutes before you switch the light off to get the maximum benefit from the music but you can also use it much earlier if you prefer, especially if you have had a busy day at work.

Resources

1. Huang W, Ramsay K. B, Marcheva B, Bass J (2011) Circadian rhythms, sleep, and metabolism

J Clin Invest. 2011;121(6):2133–2141. https://doi.org/10.1172/JCI46043.

2. Loft M, Cameron L (20114) The importance of sleep: Relationships between sleep quality and work demands, the prioritization of sleep and pre-sleep arousal in day-time employees https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02678373.2014.935523

3. Czeisler CA, Allan JS, Strogatz SH, Ronda JM, Sánchez R, Ríos CD, Freitag WO, Richardson GS, Kronauer RE. (1986) Bright Light Resets the Human Circadian Pacemaker Independent of the Timing of the Sleep-Wake Cycle. Science. 1986;233:667–671. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

4. Wright KP, Jr., Czeisler CA (2002) Absence of circadian phase resetting in response to bright light behind the knees. Science. 2002;297:571. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

5. 5. Khalsa SB, Jewett ME, Cajochen C, Czeisler CA (2003) A phase response curve to single bright light pulses in human subjects. J. Physiol. 2003;549:945–952. [PMC free article] [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

6. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/nutrition/caffeine-and-sleep#:~:text=How%20Many%20Hours%20Before%20Bedtime,of%20six%20hours%20before%20bedtime.

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Zepp Aura, Zepp Health’s rest and mindfulness solutions service, helps users sleep and rest better with AI-powered personalized sleep melodies.

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Zepp Aura

Zepp Aura, Zepp Health’s rest and mindfulness solutions service, helps users sleep and rest better with AI-powered personalized sleep melodies.