Happy Holidays & Circadian Rhythms!
We are in the deepest, most magical moments of winter here in Canada! Fireplaces, feasts and cocoa are the symbols of the season, contrasting the cold and dark outdoors.
Unlike our hibernating cousins in the animal kingdom, we stay awake and have to navigate this dark time of year. How do we do it?
The 2017 Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology was awarded to three researchers for discovering “how plants, animals and humans adapt their biological rhythm so that it is synchronized with the Earth’s revolutions.” Simply put they improved our understanding of the Circadian Rhythm.
We can best understand Circadian Rhythms, by looking at what disrupts them and how that affects us. When we pull all-nighters or work shifts at odd hours or have persistent nightmares, we can absolutely feel the effects. Good sleep hygiene, therefore, is required to really feel that we are rested and ready for the daily challenges of life.
What the Nobel Prize winner’s research tells us, is that we do not automatically re-set when our sleep patterns are disrupted. Instead, we must actively participate in monitoring and maintaining good sleep hygiene.
Sleep hygiene: is when we successfully achieve consistency in the amount, quality and timing of sleep. This is something well discussed in Arianna Huffington’s book ‘The Sleep Revolution.’ A pre-bed ritual, two hours before bedtime is important, including shutting down laptops, TVs, changing into comfortable clothing, brushing our teeth and relaxation exercises. Habituating these healthy patterns increases the possibility of good mental, emotional and physiological outcomes. Our environment also makes a difference, where a fully darkened and quiet room or eye mask and ear plugs will decrease disruption of sleep.
Sunshine: Since it is now evident that our sleep patterns are dependent upon our exposure to sunlight, we must start to consider getting outdoors as an integral part of our wellbeing. Sunlight is at a premium in northern countries during the winter, so ensuring the right exposure at the right time of day is important.
Lighting: We are in the early days of leveraging lighting to compliment our Circadian Rhythm needs. Here at Nano-Lit it is our primary focus and in the new year, we commence small-scale production of our lighting systems for use in select offices….the place most Westerners can typically be found during the most optimal sunlight of the day — we can’t replace the sun, but we can certainly support how it controls our Circadian Rhythms.
Have a wonderful holiday season. From all of us at Nano-Lit, Happy Holidays!
Changing colours of daylight — Photo Credit: Schmitz Leuchten